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Key Performance Indicators for the Police

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Common management wisdom is that “what gets measured gets done.” Regularly monitoring and measuring key performance indicators (KPI) keeps an organization focused on what is important to its success, its clients and its stakeholders. KPIs are diagnostic tools used to analyze operational areas and provide actionable data that management can use to improve services and align operations with organizational objectives and track progress toward goals.

KPIs and Police Services

Just like every other organization, police departments have executives who are responsible for daily operations and strategic planning. Police departments also have stakeholders -- such as the citizens they serve, the city council, and the court system -- and all have a vested interest in seeing that the police department runs effectively and efficiently.

The US Department of Justice has identified several dimensions of police operations that serve as KPIs including crime rate, crime resolution rate, safety in personal and public spaces and effective, efficient and fair use of resources, along with and community and customer service.

Crime Rate

The crime rate is the most often discussed KPI in policing. It is the ratio of the number of crimes in an area to the population; expressed per 1,000 people per year. For example, with a population of 1.2 million in 2009, the violent crime rate in San Diego, California was 5.56 per 1,000 people and the property crime rate was 37.77 per 1,000 people. KPIs for crime rates include violent crimes, property crimes, arson, domestic burglary, auto theft and the total value of stolen property.

Resolution Rate

Novels, movies and TV police shows sometimes refer to a detective’s “solve rate” – another name for crime resolution rate. This KPI is the number of crimes solved as a percentage of the total number of crimes committed. Another KPI in this dimension is the number of firearms investigations, such as unregistered handguns, referred for criminal prosecutions.

Safety in Public

People want to be safe in their homes, schools, workplaces, at malls, parks, and other public places. KPIs in this dimension include the number of drunken driving arrests and other vehicle-related incidents, home burglary rates, percentage of missing children recovered within 72 hours of an Amber Alert, crimes against businesses and crimes against people and property.


The KPIs in the area of effective, efficient and fair use of resource measure how well a police department uses its resources. They include the percentage of total police staff on active crime duty, the average and total street time per police officer, distribution of crime duty officers by area, average time to complete a crime report, percentage of officers who attend regular firearms practice and the percent who fail the annual fire arms qualification test.

Community Service

Police work is about protecting and serving the public so that citizens have confidence in police department’s ability to protect the community and deter crime. Many police departments have response time standards for various types of calls. A KPI for this dimension is the percentage of emergencies responded to within the allotted time. Other KPIs include the number of community meetings hosted by police officers, the number of rings to answer 911 calls and the number of complaints.


Diane Chinn is a freelance writer with more than 15 years experience in many areas, including business and technical communications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from California State University and a Master of Arts in human resources and industrial relations from the University of Minnesota. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt .

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