LAPD Saving Money On Lawsuits With Software

Last Updated Sep 14, 2009 5:54 AM EDT

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had been operating under a consent agreement with the United States Justice Department due to issues with police corruption and abuse. As part of their response to these kind of issues the LAPD invested in Sierra Systems TEAMS II database software.

This software allowed a database to be built for each office on the force to track reports and interactions for them. By analyzing the type and amount of these reports the TEAMS II the leaders of the force are able to perform risk assessments on officers and identify those who need further training and discipline or in some cases commendations. The TEAMS II supplements more traditional leadership tools commonly used by military and police forces.

The Consent Agreement was recently lifted based in part on the success of the TEAMS II system. For an investment of originally $12 million with continuing contract support the LAPD has saved millions in avoiding lawsuits and settlements. The Rampart scandal alone is estimated to have cost the City of Los Angeles up to $125 million. As part of this ending the agreement the LAPD must continue to use some sort of system like TEAMS II to collect and analyze the data.

Jack Dunphy the LAPD office who blogs under this pen name at both National Review Online and at Patterico's Pontifications wrote a recent article about TEAMS II and other issues related to use of data management tools. His concern is that the system may be gamed through the filing of frivolous an false complaints against officers. Only looking at that data may cause a superior to come to an erroneous conclusion about personnel.

That is why the databases, such as TEAMS II, only should be used as one of many tools. Good leadership will require personnel contact and review of performance and behavior. There might be data revealed that would lead to more intervention with one officer then another and TEAMS II is supposed to draw attention to those needing it. That is what Sierra Systems would stress.

One problem that can arise is that superiors come to rely too much on just the data in the system. Anyone who works with such things realizes the problem of "GIGO" (Garbage In/Garbage Out) with anything that is designed to collect and analyze data. That is why the human review is key. This would also reduce the chances of something like Mr. Dunphy is concerned about from happening.

The success of TEAMS II in assisting the LAPD from getting relief of the consent agreement helps justify the investment. If it is able to assist in preventing lawsuits and settlements down the road even better. It is an example of using technology to aid in the more traditional management of personnel with the idea that it will allow speedier and more reliable intervention.

  • Matthew Potter

    Matthew Potter is a resident of Huntsville, Ala., where he works supporting U.S. Army aviation programs. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he began work as a defense contractor in Washington D.C. specializing in program management and budget development and execution. In the last 15 years Matthew has worked for several companies, large and small, involved in all aspects of government contracting and procurement. He holds two degrees in history as well as studying at the Defense Acquisition University. He has written for Seeking Alpha and at his own website,