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A staff study investigating common problems when collaborating 2 law enforcement agencies.

A Staff Study of Patrol Collaboration between Multiple Agencies


         Due to increasing budgetary deficits combined with community need, it is inherent that police agencies work in close conjunction to pool resources that will allow for current services to be upheld in all venues while simultaneously allowing for less expenditure to be maintained. Because of departmental needs and institutional expectations officer availability is essential to maintain the expected level of service towards all respective communities. Consolidation of resources is necessary; however, consolidation of resources is a many step, large scale change that will involve several in-depth and well thought out procedures in order to be effective. IACP (2003)

         The idea of collaboration between police agencies is not new.  From as early as 1967, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice has commented on the fact that America is a nation of small jurisdiction police forces which operate independently. This type of law enforcement, which formed as the nation grew in size and productivity, has not evolved in equal measure with the criminal concepts that they are tasked with fighting. As a matter of fact, the ancient geographic and political boundaries which are in place to limit the scope of police operations are often used by the criminals to their advantage because police agencies coordinate sporadically and informally even while criminal activity is contiguous to other jurisdictions. McDavid (1974)

         The very act of collaboration raises its own issues as well. Police agencies, having no real established model of policy, are forced to try to achieve a lawsuit proof method of day to day operations which often involve matters of life and death. They have only past court decisions, other people’s mistakes, and the sporadic opinions of various “experts” on which to base their written policy. Often these decisions are geographical and/or politically influenced and as a result seldom do two police agencies do things the same even if they are geographically close to each other. What could be politically viewed as a policy for freedom of expression in one incidence and venue, (crowd control during a political debate for instance), could be seen as contributing to repression in another, (such as a student or labor rally.) Gardiner (1971) So the root problem with collaboration is going to be that of policy implementation and, more importantly, policy assimilation between differing agencies. Imagine a situation involving a use of force by the police on an individual. To complicate matters, let’s make the use of force one of less lethal variety. This force usage comes in the form of an x26 Taser deployment on a young college student one busy Friday night on the outskirts of a city that borders a college campus. Unfortunately in this situation the young man is highly intoxicated and he has a medical condition that the officer cannot possibly know about. The fact is that the use of alcohol with this condition can be deadly, and the use of a Taser on the already volatile young man stops his heart and he dies. Furthermore let’s imagine that the incident involved officers from both the university police force and the city police department though the incident happened on university property. The problem beyond a young man losing his life is that political factors on a college campus will often influence policy agenda in all avenues of business within that campus including the police department. In this instance; use of less lethal force by Taser deployment, is a force option that is just below deadly force for university officers on their use of force continuum, but is equal to pepper spray usage for the city police, (a difference of two levels).  So in this case the policy of one agency would not have allowed the manner of force which proved lethal to the young man, while the other policy would have endorsed it.  The question then arises as to which rules of conduct the officers are held to, that of venue or jurisdiction. Officers, agencies, municipalities, and communities all stand to lose valuable assets and revenue based on officers acting in collaboration but under differing sets of rules. So, should both agencies be forced to work in collaboration under different sets of rules depending on where they are located geographically, or would it not be better to correlate these policies and procedures before these fallible men and women are forced to make split second decisions often the outcome of which ends in life or death? The answer seems obvious and it is with this goal in mind that I propose to tackle this issue using the campus police/city police model described above.

         It is imperative that collaboration be met in increments that deal with manageable and useful issues that will result in a beneficial collaborative effort. This staff study will be focused primarily on the root of all police functionality, that of policy and procedure within both departments so that they coincide with each other and so that all officers are prepared to handle situations appropriately as they arise.

         Aside from being able to do more with less, there are other motivations for consolidation of police services as well. It is believed by many that consolidation of public safety departments will lead to a more effective and equitable system for the provision of public services, evidence suggests that all things being equal, larger jurisdictions would produce more satisfying police services by reducing cost, increasing specialization, offering opportunities for advancement - thereby drawing more qualified employees - and offering the organization a louder and more distinct political voice. Pachon & Lovrich (1977) The problem is then that agencies are “territorial”. Police service, being one of the most local of government functions, is personal in nature, with each jurisdiction wanting to believe that it can effectively provide and oversee at least the minimal amount of police services. McDavid (1974)  Studies have shown therefore that the most effective way of instituting an inter-jurisdictional cooperation amongst agencies is to have a higher authority in an integrated chain of command, someone who is known as a fixer, and to base the implementation on a simple plan of action that has been proved successful in the past. Levin (1986)

Relevant criteria for evaluating alternatives


There are several basic assumptions that we can make concerning the status of police agencies in years to come throughout the nation, considering the present economy and outlook on future economies. In our model especially, these are as follows:

1.          Over the next several years, economic shortfalls will continue in both city and university revenue.

2.          Both departments will be required to do more with less as is every other law enforcement agency in the U.S. and other countries. 

3.          Both the city police department and university police department will continue to grow in responsibility while neglecting to grow in resources.

4.          Both departments will be faced with increasingly demanding challenges and responsibilities that influence core values and mission statements.

5.          Officers from both agencies will be required to offer assistance to each other which will involve use of force, response to resisting subjects, search and seizure, vehicle pursuit, prisoner transport, K9 deployment, and – possibly - armed/barricaded suspects.

Statistics show that in light of the above listed assumptions, there are certain facts that are inherent to the condition of the community in a less than prosperous economy:


1.          As the economy grows worse, crime rates continue to rise.

2.          Officers of both agencies will be called upon to support those of the other agency in manpower, information, expertise, training, and equipment resources.

3.          Well written policy and procedure manuals serve as the foundation of a professional law enforcement agency. Carpenter (2000)

4.          Officers assigned to another department must have clear guidelines of rank, supervision, and policy and procedure in order for the incident/scene commander to have effective control of personnel and situational awareness. MAIT (1995)

5.          Policy and procedures must be clear, simple, and must contain accurate information sufficient to take any situation to fruition without leaving the agency open to civil liability or the individual vulnerable to agency sanctions. Johnson (2011)

In considering the roles that each department plays within the overall community, it is important to consider the mission statement of each department. While the mission statement of the city police department leans strongly towards enforcement and proactive partnership between the police and the community, the mission statement of the university police department more closely embraces collaboration, service, protection, and enforcement with the goal of achieving a collective vision of a better future. This outlook is a reflection of the mission statement of the university itself which is concerned with the dissemination of knowledge as a whole, and whose primary concern is its students.

It could then be claimed that the city police hold a duty to the residential community, while the university police seek to disseminate knowledge and perform police duties in a way that are conducive to developing the potential of each student and individualizing each student’s educational experience. In other words, we each have different goals in regards to our organizational function. This is important because, as Robert A. Johnson, a policy analyst with the University of Maryland in Baltimore, points out: “Policy writers must have a clear understanding of how the organization functions and how crime operations mesh to accomplish the work of the agency.” Johnson (2011) This isn’t to say that the two cannot come together however, and it is the belief of this writer that with only a few procedural alterations the stage can be set for a productive future for both departments to enjoy the benefits of each other’s strengths and resources.

A well written policy and procedure manual serves as the foundation of a professional law enforcement agency; not having current and well written policies forces officers to rely on common sense, best guesses, and just plain luck in carrying out their duties. A well thought out manual shows a proactive approach to problem solving and planning ahead, serves as a powerful communication tool, and creates consistency in making decisions by employees in carrying out their numerous tasks. Carpenter (2000)  It seems appropriate then that two agencies working in close proximity, who act in supporting roles of each other, would want to be in accordance with each other in certain policies and procedures; specifically, those that carry a significant risk of liability and which are major concerns of public influence. After all, policies serve as an introduction to a department’s intent or philosophy and serve as a guide for informing employees why management wants them to follow a certain course of action, while procedures define the steps necessary to achieve those goals that are outlined. Carpenter (2011)

A good example of the type of operation that requires collaboration of the sort that we are undertaking is that of Multi-Agency Investigative Teams. MAIT’s as they are called are usually undertaken in order to fight against things such as organized crime, serial murder, illegal drugs, and a wide variety of major crimes that involve multiple jurisdictions. MAIT (1995) However, some of the problems faced in MAIT teams should be considered when considering the problems that will be faced with any attempt at collaboration.  There should be a formal agreement established which is beyond the scope of this study, but which formulates personnel assignment and authority roles. One of the most difficult problems encountered in the formation and operation of a MAIT unit is the reconciliation of discrepancies between the policies and procedures of the unit and those of the participating departments. Since the policies and procedures often vary among the departments, it is often impossible to formulate a unit policy that is totally consistent with the corresponding policies of all of the individual departments; therefore, care must be taken to achieve agreement of the various members of the board to any unit policy that differs from that of their respective departments. Of particular concern are policies regarding:

•          Use of force

•          Vehicle Pursuits and responses

•          Arrests, searches, and interrogations

•          Undercover operations MAIT (1995)

Of particular interest in the planned collaboration of the city police department and the  university police department are use of force options; particularly,  the use of force continuum and less lethal options, as well as the policy of vehicle pursuits and the policy of K9 operations, ( in regards to use of force and search and seizure).  A close reading of both departments’ policies in regards to use of force does not reveal any blaring discrepancies. The city police department does not have a use of force response chart per se, rather, it has an assortment of procedural orders which deal with each method of less than lethal force on an individual basis. (It was learned that there was an officer response chart in place at one time, but it was removed due to the essence of the continuum of force causing civilian lay people some confusion about the escalation of force especially during jury trials. It seems that most people unfamiliar with use of force issues expect the officer or officers to proceed through all of the steps of the chart regardless of where the perpetrator actions enter the chart.) On the contrary, the university police department has what seems to be a well thought out, well researched, and well documented officer response chart, entitled Table of Officer Responses which could easily serve both departments, should the city choose to adopt it, and which would support the city’s existing procedural orders with very little modification; specifically, the lowering of the use of pepper spray on the continuum one level. There appears to be merit as well in the removal of an officer response chart from policy. 

On a similar note, The city police department’s procedural order manual has excellent insight into the specific application of individual types of less lethal force items that would be well incorporated into the manual of  university police department. It is much more detailed, more distinct, specifically oriented, clearly concise, and offers ambiguity to officers in a way that is conducive to an incident that is wrought with extenuating circumstances as most use of force issues are.

The city police department does not have an approved pursuit policy, while the university police department has a well-researched pursuit policy that incorporates documentation from the Ohio Revised Code, The International Association of Chiefs of Police Policy Center, The Office of Criminal justice Center Pursuit Guidelines, and several CALEA references.

Both agencies canine response policies are very similar, and the local canine officers work in close collaboration anyway. There are enough discrepancies however that there must be a consensus reached in order for the officers to function together on a day to day basis. 


         The establishment of corresponding policies and procedures is implemental to the ability of the two agencies to work together effectively. As stated previously, well thought out and well written policies and procedures show a proactive mindset and prove that administrators are thinking ahead; trying to prevent problems from occurring before they become issues. Well written, distinct, and specific policies and procedures protect agencies from litigation as well as protecting individual officers from civil liability and possible agency sanctions in the event of discrepant policies being served in the same incident. However, it is well documented that most departments do not welcome outside intrusion in the running of their affairs, not even from neighboring agencies. Levine (1971) As policy is changed and implemented it will become important for the fixer to take a strong stand in order to keep things moving forward. As the waste cleanup fiasco undertaken in New York in the 1970’s at the Phohl Brothers site has proven, implementation involving assumed cooperation of involved entities without a fixer who has the authority to make things happen or the political savvy to understand the mindset of those involved is going to fail, especially when some are willing to move forward while others are hedging. Nakamura (1991)  As James C. McDavid points out in his study of the inter-jurisdictional cooperation among St. Louis area police agencies, the task at hand will be to change the outlook and behavior of police officers, and police officers who can be coerced or threatened into a behavioral change aren’t really police officers.


In order to achieve a successful collaboration effort between our two model agencies, several things must occur chronologically. First, taking the advice of Martin Levin, a fixer must be put in place that has the authority and ability to direct and manipulate the policy changes as they are implemented. This person will have to be someone who understands the police mentality and who is able to get things done regardless of the possibility of purposive opposition from the ranks of officers involved.  One of the two chiefs of police, either from the university or the city force, would fit this bill better than a city councilman or a university trustee. Having been steeped in police work for many years anyway this person will not only be seasoned, he or she will already have a certain degree of respect from both forces and from the community, thus making his or her role as a fixer more easily acquired.

Secondly, the collaboration effort should be taken in small, easy steps and based on a successful implementation already established. O’Toole (1986) The earlier referenced study by James C. McDavid on the collaboration of the St. Louis area agencies revealed that the two most common types of exchange in the collaboration effort involved policy coordination and mutual aid. McDavid (1974) So a mutual aid agreement and the policy differences identified by the IACP and noted above should be changed to reflect the mission statements of both departments. Specifically to be changed are the policies regarding use of force, pursuit, arrest/search/interrogation, and K9 deployment so that the wants and needs of both departments are represented and they do not differ in any way.

The objectives then are to appoint or recruit a regional Director of Public Safety. This can either be done from within or an outside director recruited to facilitate the collaboration effort. He will oversee the process, having authority over both Chiefs of Police and he will direct them to draft a mutual aid agreement that both will sign off on, the second objective. Both Chiefs will then appoint committee members from their staff to draft policies for the actions listed above, they will be given a time frame, and both Chiefs and the Director will agree on the elements of these policies and all employees will be bound to it. As a fixer, the Director will be constantly repairing and adjusting the machinery used in implementing his policies, constantly putting together coalitions to support, protect and expand those policies. Levin (1986) Thus will three objectives be met towards the goal of collaboration between two agencies. Afterwards, the program should be given an opportunity to grow and become successful. Shortfalls and initial periods of loss are not necessarily signs of failure as policy implementation can take time.

In assessing the calculus of implementing a collaborative effort between our university and municipal police forces several factors should be taken into account. Our goal is to give the respective communities, municipal and student, the service that they have paid for and which they expect. However, current unemployment rates have lowered tax revenue while affecting student admissions and there are no funds for hiring new employees while there are officers leaving both agencies due to retirement. However, both departments have differing areas of responsibilities and both are busy at different times. This is in large part because the bars are all in the municipality and the student community ventures into town to drink and party on weekend nights. Therefore the busy time for the municipal police is from 10pm to 2:30am, when the bars close. The university typically gets busy after that and maintains a higher volume of calls from 2:30 am until 4:30 am.  Due to finite resources of officers, it is therefore efficient for the two to respond to each other’s calls as when one group of officers is busy the other has down time and vice versa. This policy will be effective because both of the departments will be able to handle call volume without the public having to wait for officers to free from other calls to offer service. In terms of adequacy, all officers from both departments are certified through the same state entity and to the same standards as any other police officer in the state. The public therefore will not lose the standard to which they are used to being policed.  With the implementation of the mutual aid agreement and the corresponding use of force, pursuit, arrest, and K9 deployment policies in place, the community is protected from unexpected behavior from the police officer regardless of which agency he or she works for, as well as from litigation involving conflicting policies that are often scrutinized in the public eye and in civil courts. The needs of both the student community and the municipal community will have their needs met with the availability of police services from a qualified officer so this policy is responsive to the community need and it is equitable as well under the Adam Smith notion of equity as it will maximize the individual welfare of all by allowing them to have more police protection by reducing the invisible boundaries which have restricted them from action in the past.

The implementation schedule below reflects this, the very first aspect of agency collaboration. There are many more aspects that must be covered as time allows. Collaboration is a many faceted endeavor which must be taken a step at a time if it is to be successfully implemented.

Implementation Schedule

Assign Public Safety Director search committee          By:

July 1, 2012          Appointments to be made by University President and City Manager.

Hire Public Safety Director          By:

September 1, 2012          Appointment made search committee

Draft Mutual Aid agreement          By:

November 1, 2012          Chief of University

Chief of Municipality

Director of Public Safety

Create corresponding Use of Force policy          By:

January 1, 2013          Committee as assigned by:

Chief of University

Chief of Municipality

Create corresponding policy on pursuit          By:

January 1, 2013          Committee as assigned by:

Chief of University

Chief of Municipality

Create corresponding policy on arrest/search/seizure          By:

January 1, 2013          Committee as assigned by:

Chief of University

Chief of Municipality

Create corresponding policy on K9 deployment          By:

January 1, 2013          Committee as assigned by:

Chief of University

Chief of Municipality

Policy review          By:

February 1, 2013          University attorney

City attorney

City chief

University chief

Director of Public Safety

Implementation          By:

April 1, 2013          All concerned

Works Cited :

1.          Consolidating Police Services, An IACP Planning Approach, May 2003

2.          Carpenter, Michael, Put it in Writing; The Police Policy Manual, October 2000

3.          Multi-Agency Investigative Teams, IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center, February 1995

4.          Johnson, Robert, Writing Policy and Procedure in a Small Campus Police Environment, February 2011






10.          Nakamura, Robert. T., Environmental Dispute Resolution and Hazardous Waste Cleanups: A Cautionary Tale of Policy Implementation, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 10:2(1991:Spring)p.204

11.          O’TOOLE, LAWRENCE J. Jr., Policy Recommendations for Multi-Actor Implementation: An assessment of the Field, Journal of Public Policy, 6:2 (Apr. – Jun. 1986) pp. 181-210

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