Early Intervention Programs: An Effective Police Accountability Tool, or Punishment of the Productive?

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police, behaviour, employee accountability, Performance management systems

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Purpose: The purpose of this research is to examine one agency's experience with their early intervention program (EIP), exploring the specifics of the program as well as the characteristics of the officers who were identified by their EIP criteria.

Design/methodology/approach: Using data from calendar year 2000 that were provided from the Internal Affairs Bureau of a large Southern police department, the characteristics of EIP and non‐EIP flagged officers, the classifying criteria examined, and the issue of productivity and opportunity investigated as they related to the classification criteria.

Findings: EIP officers were more likely to be younger, male, and have fewer years of experience. Additionally, these officers made more arrests, filed more use of force reports, and used higher levels of force. All qualifications were based on the use of force. The findings highlighted the importance of considering the productivity of an officer along with the EIP criteria: opportunity (defined as the number of use of force reports filed) and the use of high force were inversely related. Among officers with the highest proportion of high force usage, none was classified as an EIP officer.

Research limitations/implications: Findings are based on a single year from a single agency. No controls were able to be made for geographic assignment, potentially an important consideration.

Practical implications: A very useful source of information for agencies wishing to adopt or modify an EIP program.

Originality/value: As one of the first empirical analyses of EIPs, the research presented here sparks a debate on a number of issues, including the definition of “opportunity” and how agencies can improve their EIP systems.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Policing: An International Journal, v. 29, issue 1, p. 58-76