At least in the last twenty years that I've been a criminal justice practitioner I've never known what it has been like to not hear the words, do more with less. Today, however, the policing profession really has had to do much more with smaller numbers available for duty. Arresting someone for theft is time intensive. Ever book someone for shoplifting, process them for the felony, and then have to log twenty or thirty pieces of evidence? After completing the report and dropping off the prisoner to the county jail you have been off the road for at least three hours. It only takes a few of these types of calls to completely overwhelm your shift and prevent you from handling other calls for service. Partnering with local security agents for identified locations of concern can help alleviate the problem of getting hammered with shoplifting arrests. The key is to come up with a strategy before the calls come in. Some solutions could be
- Book offenders at the store, in the security department, and issue a summons instead of a physical arrest.
- Evidence is photographed and recorded through store inventory management instead of being seized for courtroom presentation (work with your prosecutor on this).
- Use the civil demand process instead of criminal charges for employee theft situations.
- Identify and charge offenders at a later time (within legal time limits, again - work with your prosecutor).
- Redeploy more officers to cover a smaller area (allow other areas to go unpatrolled) where there is a high degree of theft occurrences.
Our policing environment today necessitates that officers have to explore being more creative when handling calls. Further restrictions in manpower, financial constraints, more of a service demand and other factors relative to your locale force change. A little cooperation and coordination on our part can help ease the service strain we are under, not to mention make the holidays a little less stressful than usual.