Review and Analysis of Quality Improvement Techniques in Police Departments

Application for Public Health

Police departments that have incorporated quality improvement (QI) techniques throughout their management structures respond more quickly and effectively to changes in crime patterns. Public health organizations should use lessons from police departments to selectively integrate QI into management processes.

This study examined QI implementation in police departments to improve understanding of how public health agencies can adopt QI techniques. A literature review and discussions with academic experts led to interviews with senior officials at nine law enforcement agencies. Content analysis of interview transcripts identified themes and categorized the frequency and nature of responses. The authors identified barriers and enablers to QI integration in police departments. A multilevel classification system created a QI group and a comparison group.

Key Findings:

  • The six departments in the QI group were characterized by: (1) an integrated management approach; (2) a comprehensive, agency-wide system; (3) a top management focus on results; and (4) being intensely proactive.
  • QI brought about better credibility with political leadership and the community.
  • The lack of a profit motive did not hinder the implementation of QI management techniques.

The authors developed eight recommendations for the incorporation of QI in public health departments.