FROM THE NET WORKS NEWSLETTER, FALL 2005, VOL. 21, NO. 3
[Editors’ Note: Thomas King was the chief of police of State College Police Department when this article was written. He is now accessing IACP Net as the Assistant Borough Manager of State College.]
Providing police services in an area where as many as two-thirds of the residents are college students can be a stretch for a law enforcement agency.
“With limited resources in a town with a lot of activity, our department must make good use of our officers,” said Thomas King, chief of the State College Police Department in State College, Pennsylvania.
One way the department maximizes its resources is through IACP Net, which is used to solve law enforcement administrative challenges such as scheduling.
“Recently we started a 12-hour patrol schedule on a trial basis. I was able to find an incredible amount of information about scheduling on IACP Net, including feedback from other IACP Net members about the pros and cons including what has or hasn’t worked well with their 12-hour schedules.”
State College is home to Penn State University, comprising 42,000 under-graduate students. The vibrant, youthful community enjoys a relatively low violent crime rate. However, the department is challenged with law enforcement issues such as alcohol abuse, thefts and landlord-tenant disputes. Another area of concern is traffic safety.
“We have a very congested area with thousands of pedestrians and vehicles coming to Penn State each day for work or school. I’ve used IACP Net to review creative traffic enforcement strategies used by other departments.”
Several years ago, the department looked into creating a traffic enforcement program called Strategic Traffic Enforcement Program, or STEP. “When we started developing STEP, IACP Net helped me identify what other departments across the country were doing,” said Chief King.
With IACP Net, the chief learned from the experiences of law enforcement agencies with whom State College had never previously associated.
“Thanks to IACP Net, I found several departments with programs very similar to what I had envisioned. I added some critical elements after seeing what they had done. I also was able to contact these agencies and come up with very important information that helped us develop an effective program.”
In addition to traffic accident data, STEP weighs factors such as citizen complaints, traffic volume, and whether an area is in a school or construction zone to make decisions about where to concentrate enforcement.
“STEP has allowed us to focus our traffic enforcement on the problem areas instead of just selecting streets or highways that we thought were dangerous. I never would have been able to put together a substantial program like STEP had it not been for the initial information 1 received through IACP Net.
“I can’t imagine a police administrator being able to do his or her job as effectively without IACP Net,” said Chief King. “It gives you the ability to research tens of thousands of documents from law enforcement departments across the country. Sometimes we use IACP Net for complete policy development. Other times it provides information that leads you in the right direction or gives you a contact in another agency that you can call and talk to. It’s really an excellent research tool. Nowhere else can you get the volumes of professional law enforcement information that is availab1 on IACP Net, and it is available in such a user-friendly way.”