Evaluation and Measuring Performance
Measuring and evaluating the work of a crime analyst can be a difficult task. Unlike patrol officers, analysts do not have clearly-defined performance metrics such as citations, directed patrols, arrests, etc. The following guidelines are intended to provide ideas about how you can develop an evaluation program for your crime analysts.
Why Track Analyst Activity?
There are several reasons why this is important:
- To understand what your analyst is actually doing on a day-to-day basis, and to make sure this activity reflects your goals and vision for the position.
- To assist in the employee’s annual performance evaluation process.
- To promote accountability and to provide objective performance measures.
- If your position is grant-funded, it is likely a requirement that you generate routine reports on your analyst’s activity.
It is an NCIC requirement that all criminal history inquiries be logged by the analyst. In addition, most states require driver’s license queries to be documented as well. While these do not help assess performance, they do provide insight into the nature of requests made of crime analysts.
Types of Metrics
You can measure the quantity of items as one measure of performance. For example, you can track the number of:
- Bulletins produced
- Briefings attended
- Ride Alongs
- Public Requests for Information (RFIs)
- Assists to Other Agencies
- Training hours
Quantity vs Time
In addition to counting the number of items, it is important to record the amount of time spent. Just as one robbery case is more time consuming than one burglary case, analyst work can vary as well. While some activities are consistent and finite (briefings are generally 20 minutes, ride alongs are eight hours, etc), some are not. An in-depth pattern analysis bulletin will take much longer than a ‘wanted subject’ bulletin, so it is helpful to track the amount of time spent in addition to the number of items completed.
Requested vs Self-Initiated Activity
A useful distinction can be made between activity that is self-generated versus activity that is requested of the analyst. This can help assess whether your analyst(s) are acting in a proactive or reactive capacity. For example, analysts can be more proactive when they are producing crime pattern bulletins before a request is made. Analysts that routinely (or exclusively) respond to requests for bulletins are working in a reactive mode.
A Word of Caution
Quantity does not mean quality. Just because an analyst produces a high number of bulletins does not mean they are performing at a high level. Likewise, an analyst that does not produce many bulletins does not mean they are under-performing. You must actively review the work product to determine if it meets department standards and objectives.
There is a delicate balance between documenting necessary work projects and creating a burden on the analyst. For example, it is unreasonable to create a system that documents every minute of an analyst’s work day, just as it is unreasonable to do the same for other employees. To prevent analysts from spending an inordinate amount of time documenting information that will never be used, it is suggested that you follow this guideline for developing an evaluation system:
- Document the questions that you want to answer on a regular basis. These questions will help you determine which items to track and how to track them. For example, if you want to know how many bulletins an analyst produces each month, then that becomes one of your tracking criteria.
- Once you have determined which items you want to track, assign a default amount of time to as many items as possible. For example, a driver’s license or criminal history check may take 15 minutes. Some activites vary so much that you may not be able to assign default values, and for the ones that do have a default, that value should be editable. Rather than try to account for exact amounts of time, you should decide upon the smallest increment of time, such as 15 minute blocks or 30 minute blocks.
- Create a log sheet, preferably in Access or Excel. You can take advantage of the features of these programs to automate and simplfy the process of documenting an analyst’s activity.
- Have the analyst complete this form on a regular basis. if it is well-designed, it should not impose a burden on the analyst. If they keep up with the documentation, it will be accuate and useful.
Sample Activity Tracking Forms
The forms below demonstrate different ways analysts record and document their work.