Police Reform Through Data-Driven Management

AuthorBenjamin Horwitz,Danny Murphy,The Honorable Susie Morgan
Date01 September 2017
Published date01 September 2017
Subject MatterArticles
Police Reform
Through Data-Driven
The Honorable Susie Morgan
Danny Murphy
and Benjamin Horwitz
Over a 2-year span, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) transformed from
a department struggling to comply with its expansive federal consent decree to one
exploring even broader reforms through a data-driven management approach.
NOPD believes more than ever in the adage you manage what you measure. NOPD
conducts monthly audits of consent decree compliance and distributes the results to
hold leadership accountable for implementing reforms. Through frequent audits,
NOPD has produced dramatic, swift compliance improvements. Concurrently,
NOPD leadership introduced a data-driven management framework that addressed
all facets of management: MAX (Management Analytics for Excellence). This article
presents the viewpoints of two sides of the consent decree: NOPD and the federal
judge overseeing implementation of the consent decree. NOPD and its monitoring
partners use MAX’s performance metrics to monitor reform implementation and
address areas requiring improvement. This article details how to implement reforms
through a data-driven management approach.
police reform, consent decree, police management
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, LA, USA
Compliance Bureau, New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans, LA, USA
New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans, LA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Danny Murphy, New Orleans Police Department, LA, USA.
Email: dpmurphy@nola.gov
Police Quarterly
2017, Vol. 20(3) 275–294
!The Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/1098611117709785
A police department consent decree does not come with an instruction manual.
Not for the court and not for the police department. This is the quandary faced
by the target department and federal judges. Of course, a one-size-fits-all instruc-
tion manual is not feasible, as every consent decree is as unique as the police
department to which it applies. This leaves the judge, with the assistance of
court-appointed monitors and the police department, to chart a course from
entry of the decree to substantial compliance, preferably in the shortest period
of time and with due consideration for the department’s budgetary concerns.
In New Orleans, the reform process started slowly as the court and the court’s
monitors struggled with identifying and quantifying the reforms mandated by
the 492 paragraphs of the decree and determining how to measure incremental
compliance over time. The first measurable progress was noted when the moni-
tors began developing audits, often using checklists, to identify with specificity
what was expected of the NOPD in a particular area, such as photographic
lineups, and using the audit results to gauge compliance.
The NOPD Compliance Bureau replicated these audits, using the checklists
created by the monitors, in advance of the monitors’ monthly visits. The
Compliance Bureau coupled its internal audits with annotations and instructions
to be sure that supervisors and patrol officers understood what was being mea-
sured, what needed to be done to pass the audit, and why compliance was key to
reforming the department. Just as importantly, the Compliance Bureau rapidly
published to supervisors the results of the internal audits so that deficiencies
could be addressed before the monitors arrived to complete their checklists.
The original concept has morphed into individual topic scorecards and the
data-driven management system, known as MAX, which is described later. The
success of these management tools demonstrates why a strong compliance
bureau is the key to successfully implementing and sustaining reforms.
Only 2 years after the New Orleans Police Department accelerated its efforts to
implement an extensive federal consent decree, NOPD has built the infrastructure
to manage change effectively. Now, other police agencies are looking to the New
Orleans Police Department for guidance on implementing reforms(Crocket, 2017;
New Orleans Police Department, 2016; Police Executive Research Forum, 2016;
Texas A&M University, 2016). No one could have predicted this would happen.
Where once full compliance with the consent decree seemed a near impossibility,
NOPD is now pursuing reforms even beyond the scope of its comprehensive
consent decree to ensure that it becomes the department its community deserves.
How Did This Happen?
The New Orleans Police Department embraced a data-driven management strat-
egy that delivered significant, rapid change (see Demir, 2009; Rousseau, 2006).
As a result, NOPD now believes more than ever in the adage you manage what
you measure. The New Orleans Police Department is continuously instituting
276 Police Quarterly 20(3)

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