By partnering with the nonprofit National Police Foundation, a law enforcement data platform is aiming to make it easier for officers to share and learn from each other’s stories of narrowly avoiding death or serious injury on duty.
Mark43, a New York-based company that sells data-management software to law enforcement agencies, announced the partnership Oct. 8. The company will offer a free update that integrates “near-miss” reporting into the existing records management systems of its customers, allowing officers to submit anonymous data to the foundation’s Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss database with the click of a button.
The Near Miss initiative isn’t new — it has recorded 156 incidents since its inception in 2014, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services — but the foundation expects its partnership with Mark43 to improve the quality of the data and make it easier to submit.
Jim Burch, the foundation’s executive vice president, said Near Miss used to require a long questionnaire based on what information was needed to assess what went wrong in each incident. But in practice, the form was too long. Burch said the foundation pared it down in recent years and implemented a mobile app, but even six minutes was too much time for officers who, after a near-miss incident, had to rush to their next call. By the end of their shift or the next day, many officers couldn’t perfectly remember exact details, leading to fewer and less-complete reports.
Now, all officers need to do is check a single box while filling out their logs every day to flag that report for LEO Near Miss, indicating it contains data on a near-miss incident.
“This is a tremendous step forward in terms of ease-of-use and the quality of the data, because now, with the agencies’ cooperation and permission, we can get access to multiple fields in that incident report,” Burch said. “So we can get access to data that we probably weren’t even trying to collect initially, but could be very valuable in terms of understanding what occurred.”
An analysis of these reports is available at PoliceOne.com.
Mark43 CEO Scott Crouch said Oct. 19 that the free update will be available to current law enforcement clients shortly, giving them and the foundation immediate, searchable access to flagged reports.
“A large part of our platform is making officers more efficient, and the other part is making sure that we can transport data really fast to any user … and say, ‘Hey, here’s something you need to be aware of in a situation that’s going on, this could potentially impact how you deal with it,’” he said. “We view this Near Miss stuff along the same lines as helping police departments improve the safety of their people.”
Mark43 counts more than 60 public law enforcement agencies of various sizes as customers, according to news releases.
Burch said roughly a dozen departments want to implement LEO Near Miss at the organization level, and more than 400 officers representing 296 local, state and federal agencies have subscribed to receive reports from the database. It averages about 30 near-miss reports a year, mostly associated with stops for traffic violations, arrest warrants and suspicious persons.
He added that similar close-call reporting systems that have been in place for years in fields of transportation and fire safety.
“It helps us make a giant leap forward in building a culture of safety within law enforcement. … How do we do what aviation has done, some transportation sectors have done, and learn from the mistakes, or almost-mistakes, that were made, as well as the factors that prevented a tragedy?” Burch said. “I’m not suggesting we’re the last to catch up here, but we’re certainly not as far ahead as other sectors, so this moves us forward to an incredible degree.”
This article originally appeared in Government Technology.This article originally appeared in Government Technology.