Jun 15, 2017
The Denver Police Department (DPD) implemented Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) in 2015, although not to the satisfaction of the Denver Auditor’s Office. The Auditor’s Office identified four issues regarding the design, implementation and evaluation of the DDACTS model.
“Although the DDACTS process model allows law enforcement jurisdictions to build their own DDACTS initiatives around general principles and with a great deal of flexibility, DPD has an obligation to implement it efficiently, effectively, and economically,” explained Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA. “Nowhere do we suggest that DDACTS should be DPD’s primary or only data-driven policing initiative. Our report simply recommends improvements to the model’s adoption based on leading practices and guidance.”
The DDACTS model is the culmination of four areas of law enforcement research aimed at integrating traffic enforcement into the overall crime control strategies of law enforcement agencies. The research on which DDACTS is based dates back to the 1960s and draws together four research areas: the link between traffic law enforcement and crime, place-based policing versus person-based policing, the co-location of crime and traffic accidents, and the use of data to direct law enforcement strategies.
In its audit response, DPD disagreed with all the Auditor’s recommendations regarding implementation of the DDACTS model. “DPD will continue to improve our methods and continue to borrow from the DDACTS guidelines if and when they are useful in achieving DPD goals,” the department wrote. However, the department said it intended to increase DDACTS training at the academy, to corporals in the districts, and when officers transfer to districts that use the DDACTS model.
“DDACTS guidelines are flexible and we acknowledge that repeatedly in the report,” said Auditor O’Brien. “However, flexibility should not be understood to translate to lack of training, communication, and coordination with other policing initiatives.”
In its audit response letter, DPD officials pointed out that they emphasize officer initiative and accountability in patrolling areas and reducing crime and disorder. “Officers pair information gleaned from experience with data analytics to best utilize available proactive time,” DPD’s letter said. “Officers and command staff need options, not just DDACTS, to address chronic problems as well as other patterns and emerging issues.”
“The recommendations were multi-faceted and while we agreed with portions of some of them, we couldn’t implement all of the recommendations in their entirety,” said Chris Wyckoff, Director of DPD’s Data Analysis Unit.
“This whole meeting I have felt that we had two different languages being spoken,” said Audit Committee member Leslie Mitchell during the Committee discussion. “The auditors aren’t saying that the Police department has to do this or that it has to be done a certain way. All they’re saying is that if you are going to use DDACTS, it should be defined. If you’re going to use it, have a plan and then meet that plan.”
Auditor O’Brien rejected DPD’s claim that its DDACTS efforts have made a positive impact on the crime and traffic accident reduction in DDACTS zones. “DPD cannot conclude that its DDACTS efforts are effective at reducing crime using current measures,” he said.
At the end of the Audit Committee discussion, Auditor O’Brien gave a closing evaluation. “I’ve been at this end of the table for more than 1200 audits and I’ve never had the experience where every recommendation we made was flat-out rejected. Underlying our recommendations are very basic management principles — planning, organizing, setting objectives, assigning responsibility, training, evaluating outcomes and re-adjusting if needed – it seems to me that that’s what the Police department is rejecting. As the Denver Auditor and as a Denver citizen, I’m troubled by that. There’s a little more agreement in the conversation than there is in the official record. I hope with our next audit that we can do a better job of airing our differences before we finalize the audit report.”