Five Trends That Will Shape Public Safety in 2023

Five Trends That Will Shape Public Safety in 2023

Coming out of 2022, public safety organizations must examine internal and external factors that could greatly affect their operations. What are the emerging trends and needs in public safety? What can organizations do to support these critical issues? Here are the five trends we predict will be significant focus areas for public safety organizations in 2023.

Using Integrated Case Management Systems to Improve Outcomes

The criminal justice system is an inherently local function. At face value, the criminal justice system operates seamlessly and equitably. However, for those involved in criminal justice, the narrative is altogether different. Policymakers and practitioners are grappling with budget cuts and a lack of incarceration alternatives, all while handling cases becomes increasingly disconnected. For victims, defendants, and those who have offended, the process is perceived as fragmented, confusing, time-intensive, lengthy, and often life-altering in negative ways.

In a paper written by The Justice Management Institute, the current state of the criminal justice system is described as siloed, “…the silo analogy is one that has been used for years to describe how insular each part of the criminal justice system has become, which has resulted in much more attention being focused on the intake and output of people and less on the fundamental principles of the justice system.” Considering the apparent disconnect between these processes, what can be done?

One mechanism that may alleviate some of the pressure felt by disconnected systems and processes is the introduction of automated workflows into your organization’s Offender Management System (also known as an OMS). An OMS is designed to store data about an individual’s entire history, from initial intake and classification through parole or probation. You might consider building if/then rules in your system to ensure that case plans are automatically filled in with interventions that align with the criminogenic needs that are uncovered when a risk/needs assessment is completed. You can read more about how to improve the functionality of your OMS in our blog: How can an Offender Management System integrate risk/needs assessments to make communities safer?

Understanding the needs of an individual and aligning relevant evidence-informed case management for the individual at the appropriate time leads to safer institutions and communities. Further, involving the individual in both the data collection and treatment planning phase creates additional engagement that increases compliance and reduces recidivism. From a user perspective, through the integration of these assessments, data becomes more accurate, and workflows become more efficient as automation can be put in place to better help the decision-making process – an integral piece that public safety related organizations need as budgets decrease, inflation rises, and employee turnover continues at a staggering rate.

Delivering the Right Response Through Evidenced-Based Policing

Evidence-Based Policing (EBP) is a way of looking at police decision-making that moves beyond traditional police assumptions about what works in carrying out policing duties and activities. As police professionals navigate today’s complex and challenging socio-political climate, police leaders at every rank and position need to understand how EBP can expand their thinking and collective mindset to move law enforcement organizations from outputs- to outcomes-driven work.

The overdiversification of police response has been contemplated since the 1960’s and experimentation with a Differential Police Response (DPR) began in the late 1970’s but stumbled on the issue of call triage. In a recent example of the type of work being done in this area, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) undertook a project to develop a model to predict outcomes of Calls for Service. The SPD is currently constructing a framework grounded in risk management to triage and “right-size” the response to approximately 400k calls for service received annually.

Established and tested in commercial aviation, firefighting, heavy manufacturing and other high-risk endeavors, this approach plots more than fourteen years of police response activity on a 5×5 risk matrix representing the likelihood of a severe outcome (death, injury, and harm) that may occur. During the next phase of analysis, the SPD will begin setting up a “call triage system” in which bots that can process and categorize natural language to help 911 operators categorize calls based on their level of risk, using the “objective” measure of word frequency to augment call-takers’ human instinct. Read more about the SPD’s planning process here.

In a model like the one described above, categories of response options could include officer response, primarily officer response with a civilian partner, primarily social service response with officer support, and civilian response. Certain calls, for example, about trash and other nonemergency issues, would be answered by nonofficers, thus freeing up time for officers to focus on more serious criminal activity.

Learn more about the SPD’s Risk Managed Demand Project by watching this recent MHS Public Safety Webinar presented by Loren T. Atherley, Director of Performance Analytics & Research, Senior Research Scientist at Seattle PD.

Putting Mental Health First by Prioritizing Health and Wellness

Support for officer safety is crucial for the well-being of officers, their colleagues, agencies, families, and communities. Whether you serve in a law enforcement, court, or corrections setting, understanding the challenges public facing staff face is vital. Significantly, correctional staff experience higher burnout than even police officers (Griffin et al., 2012; Hurst & Hurst, 1997, Keinan & Maslach-Pines, 2007). In fact, correctional officers experience suicide rates that are 40–100% higher than those of police officers outside of prison (Ferdik & Smith, 2020.) What can be done to mitigate the impact of this serious issue?

While access to support and programs is becoming more readily available, programs consistent with training grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy are proving to provide high impact developmental opportunities for staff. From a recent blog written by Dr. Bill Winogron, clinical psychologist, and Staff Resiliency and Growth (STRENGTH) program co-creator, “…the broader resilience literature strongly suggests that training could protect staff who deliver programs to justice-involved individuals and those who secure the institutions where those services are delivered. The reasons why cognitive trainings have rarely been offered are unclear, but it is clear that resilience training can reduce burnout and its consequences.”

MHS’ STRENGTH Corrections was co-developed with a multi-disciplinary team and the participation of Correctional Service Canada (CSC), Ontario Region. STRENGTH Corrections is a training program that is based in cognitive behavioral theory, evidence-consistent practices, and a need to create corrections-specific content comprehensible to all staff, irrespective of duties and level of seniority.

Subscribe to our four-part email series to learn how creating a resilient workforce will help corrections workers cope with stressful situations.

Escalating Cyber Threats and Increased Domestic Terrorism

2022 brought about another year of high-profile data breaches, mirroring the years before in the growing number and sophistication of cyber threats, and these threats have seeped over into the corporate and government digital landscapes. In fact, the 2020 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report listed cyberattacks on global Critical Infrastructure as a top concern. WEF noted that “…attacks on critical infrastructure have become the new normal across sectors such as energy, healthcare, and transportation.”

As threats continue to increase in this area, threats related to domestic terrorism are also rising across North America. In an article by The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2020 and 2021 had the highest domestic terrorist attacks and plots on record. Unfortunately, the number of fatalities related to these events also increased.

With narrow budgets and issues around officer retention, public safety related agencies are spread thin as attacks in both these areas continue to grow. Is there a way to prioritize risk and manage it effectively and efficiently to make a greater impact?

One possible option to help increase effectiveness in this area is MHS’ Terrorist Radicalization Assessment Protocol-18™ (TRAP-18). The TRAP-18 is a structured professional judgement instrument intended to be used by mental health, intelligence, law enforcement and security professionals to manage operational data on a person of concern and prioritize cases based upon the presence or absence of warning behaviors and characteristics. The TRAP-18 should be considered one tool among several available tools for the assessment of cases of concern for acts of terrorism. It is designed for the assessment of subjects who may be at risk for lone actor terrorism, regardless of ideology or beliefs.

Learn more about the TRAP-18 and how it may support your organization by signing up for our TRAP-18 Email Course.

Distance and Remote Programming for Justice Involved Individuals

The pandemic made virtual remote programming necessary in many industries. Behavioral health care and services are being transformed by technology across the country. Criminal Justice Organizations worked to solution a way for those that are incarcerated and those in the community to receive access to programming consistently and safely during rolling lock downs. Some organizations have opted to continue to offer these services virtually as it resolved accessibility issues that have long made it challenging for those that have offended. According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, remote programming has shown to be as effective as in-person services and telehealth can also support continuity of care and reduce barriers to participation among people who live in remote areas.

It’s still early days for virtual programming, and there are many things to learn about its benefits and drawbacks, however virtual programming shows significant promise as it overcomes some responsivity factors that negatively impact access. As we all learned during the pandemic, there are those that find more benefit from being in person; however, for those who struggle to access in person programming, virtual/remote programming is proving to be beneficial. The Ramsey County Community Corrections organization has pioneered this new model of service delivery. Learn more about how they leveraged remote supervision and services to successfully transform their delivery model.

Want to discuss any of the trends mentioned in this blog or learn more about MHS Public Safety’s offerings? Reach out and a member of our team will be in touch.


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