Data Deep-Dives: Q&A with CPSM’s Director of Quantitative Analysis, Dov Chelst

We sat down with our Director of Quantitative Analysis, Dov Chelst, to learn more about a CPSM resource to compare police department responses across the nation.

Tell me about this resource – who is it designed for?

“When we talk with clients, they’ll typically ask how they compare to other law enforcement agencies. While there are certain statistics, like population and crime rate, that can be easily pulled from the Census Bureau or the FBI databases, CPSM has had the unique advantage of working directly with departments and analyzing more specific information about their patrol force.

We’ve collected key statistics from nearly 160 law enforcement agency studies over the past 14 years. These statistics span a variety of measurements from response time metrics to workloads to the average number of responding units. We’ve included these in a searchable database to help better facilitate these comparisons.”

How did the idea for this website come about?

“There was a white paper that compared over 60 of our studies, which was a great resource. Nevertheless, it was limited to the content in our printed reports and had not been updated to reflect our more recent studies. Since we have the calculations and spreadsheets in our database, we thought that we might as well improve the resource with the more robust data that we have.

Kevin Catlin, the city manager at Springfield Michigan requested a resource like this in 2020. He’s now the county manager in Kalamazoo County Michigan.”

What was the implementation process for building this resource?

“At the beginning, it was labor intensive. We had to locate and review our records since our inception, and naturally, we’ve refined our methods over time. There are some differences in the way we captured data from our start with ICMA to now as an independent firm. It was a lot of work from my team to collect and organize that data, and I’m really proud of what they’ve done.

Maintenance-wise, we’re updating the site monthly and we’ve got a good process down to keep it easy and sustainable.”

Anything else to share about this project?

“As far as using the resource goes, I always recommend referring to medians over means, since means tend to favor large values.

For the project in general, this project was based on things done previously, and there are data points where you could more easily draw comparisons from other larger data sources. But, there are select items within the resource that are highly useful for understanding and comparing a law enforcement agency against its peers.”

🔗 You can find the police data resource website at https://cpsm1.shinyapps.io/police_cfs_efficiency_public/.