The Lethbridge Police Service has implemented the Alternative Response Management (ARM) process to enhance reporting options for non-emergency incidents, help police more effectively triage reports to determine the appropriate response and ultimately mange calls for service more efficiently.
ARM supplements the LPS Online Reporting System that’s been operating successfully for a number of years by diverting lower-priority and non-emergency phone reports for review instead of automatically dispatching an officer. ARM essentially provides an added level of triage to the call prioritization process that has always been in place.
Reports of a minor nature where there are no known suspects or evidence will be referred to the ARM process for review by an officer and follow-up as possible. If it is determined there are no reasonable avenues of investigation the report will be retained for information purposes but operationally concluded. If new information or evidence should come to light, the file would be re-opened. In cases where follow-up is requested from the complainant but not provided to police, the matter will also be concluded.
One of the significant drivers for change locally was in the past on any given day it was common to have 20-30 minor calls in pending – meaning a complainant was waiting for an officer to become available to respond. That meant citizens waiting hours, in some cases over 24 hours, to hear back from police. LPS recognized this was not acceptable.
“As a Service we are committed to innovation and finding more efficient ways of doing business that not only continue to give taxpayers bang for their buck but emphasize the protection of life, public safety and property,” said Chief Rob Davis.
Prior to implementation the ARM process was subject to a pilot project that began in late 2016. During the pilot phase approximately 300 of 1,000 calls for service were successfully managed through the ARM process. The program was also reviewed by Police Commission.
LPS’ first priority will always be deploying officers where an immediate response is necessary for personal safety or where there is an immediate investigative need – a crime progress. That will not change. But resources are finite and officer capacity has been impacted by a number of factors from a steady increase in calls for service, increasingly complex, sophisticated and time-consuming investigations to non-policing responsibilities being downloaded on officers and spin off crime and disorder from chronic social issues such as mental health problems, substance abuse and addictions. As a result it’s critical for law enforcement agencies to find efficiencies and new ways of doing business.
“Police are no longer the sacred cows of municipal budgets like they once were,” said Davis. “Doing more with the same – or less – is a reality for law enforcement around the world.”
In 2015 KPMG provided a number of recommendations to the Toronto Police Service on how to become more efficient and Sault Ste. Marie Police Service went through a similar exercise. In 2016 the Pittsburg Police reassessed what calls required an officer to physically attend and developed new dispatching protocols. In developing the ARM process LPS reviewed these and other reports, as well as the steps fellow law enforcement agencies in Canada, the US and UK have taken.
By adding the extra layer of triage ARM provides, having a police officer review reports to ensure appropriate response and follow-up but not automatically dispatching an officer to minor calls where there is no reasonable avenue of investigation, LPS is able to maintain service levels while maximizing officer time to respond to more urgent calls and conduct more proactive policing initiatives.
**Chief Rob Davis will be available for media interviews today at 11:30 a.m. at the station. This will be the only opportunity for on-camera interviews**