Category Archives: Law Enforcement Technology

Managing Major Cases Part Four: Operational Structures

In the first chapters of this series, Managing Major Cases, I focused on what defines a major case… and what are some of the unique problems associated with different major case ‘types’. For reference, you can find our previous chapters below:

Managing Major Cases: Part One

Managing Major Cases: Part Two

Managing Major Cases: Part Three

In this chapter, I want to overview the operational structure of Major Case Management.

The Command Triangle

Many Commonwealth countries (and some larger US jurisdictions) define Major Case Management roles within what’s called a “Command Triangle”. Specifically, per the diagram below, jurisdictions within countries such as Great Britain, and Canada define three (3) primary roles – a Major Case Manager who is responsible for the effective governance of the investigation, a Primary Investigator who reports to the Major Case Manager, and a File Coordinator who is responsible for coordination for internal communication and case file management.

Let’s take a look at the responsibilities of each role:

MCMT

 

As part of this Command Triangle, the Major Case Manager is accountable for the overall investigation. He or She determines investigation strategies, identifies and manages investigative resources, conducts case reviews, and all other high-level management functions.

The Primary Investigator typically reports to the Major Case Manager and is responsible for tasks including preparation of the case file for status meetings, ensuring that assignments are completed in a timely fashion, identification of resources required for the investigation, and report any major case updates to the Major Case Manager.

Also reporting to the Major Case Manager is the File Coordinator. Their job is also multi-faceted, and includes tasks such as scrutinizing the documents created during the process of the investigation to ensure the completeness and quality, ensuring that tips and leads are assigned and managed, ensuring the security of the case file(s), ensuring that all case actions are logged into the investigative case management software, and more.

Within these three roles are any number of supervisors and line staff that perform interviews, collect evidence, communicate with the media, and so on. Not to beat a dead horse here, but I’ll point out again that all of these roles may be performed by just a few people in some jurisdictions.

The Command Triangle vs. The Major Case Framework

I believe in The Command Triangle model but also strongly support a more US-centric model – The Major Case Framework. Perhaps the differences are subtle, but a Triangle is a hard shape with defined lengths and known, predictable angles. A Framework, however, is just that – a frame which, by nature, allows for additional flexibility than a hard shape. A frame is designed to support a structure, not confine it.

It’s this flexibility that makes the Major Case Framework ideally suited for the U.S. market. By that, I mean there are 200 or 300 law enforcement agencies in Canada, the majority of which have dozens or hundreds of officers. Down here, there are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies ranging in size from NYPD (More than 50,000 Officers) to Frenchtown, New Jersey (3 Officers). This type of variance requires the flexibility of a framework.

So, what is the Major Case Framework?

As noted in discussing The Command Triangle, managing major cases generally consists of organizational groups that perform different, but equally important, roles. The Major Case Framework, however, better recognizes the true nature of investigations by acknowledging from the outset that many, and sometimes all, of the roles are performed by only a small number of individuals and that role flexibility is part of day to day investigation work.

MCMF3_1
There are four main organizational groups within the Major Case Framework. They are defined as:

  1. Command: Personnel who establish standard operating procedures, guidelines, and policies, along with the direction that ensures departmental compliance with mandates and laws. The responsibility for the specific directions that a MCM Team takes falls into the hands of those in the Command role. Some examples of Command roles include Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, Task Force Commanders, and Commissioners.
  2. Command Staff: Personnel who are charged with the high-level implementation of the policies driven by those in the Command role. CID unit heads, divisional Captains, and task force Directors are examples of the roles that fall into this group.
  3. Supervisor: Personnel who manage, control, and direct the actual resources of the MCM Team. There are any number of ranks that fill this important role, including Lieutenants and Sergeants, but – in general – the Supervisor is the individual who holds responsibility for the actual control of the personnel involved in the daily activities of the investigation.
  4. Line/Support: Personnel who perform the day to day tasks related to the investigation. These are the Detectives, Investigators, Technicians, Deputies, Analysts, and a host of other titles that are working the investigation at the ground level. The success of this organizational group.

As noted in the MCM Framework diagram, in many organizations ‘Commanders’ will find themselves performing Line/Support functions, and Supervisors will often find themselves doing the roles defined in ‘Command Staff’. American Law Enforcement, particularly small and medium-sized agencies and task forces, require the flexibility of the framework in order to succeed.

It is important that any agency’s case management systems and processes allow for the flexibility of both the Command Triangle and the Command Framework.

In Part Five of this series, I’ll examine the topic of “What Do Investigators Do?”

New Doug4Douglas Wood is CEO of Crime Technology Solutions | Case Closed Software, a leading provider of serious investigation software to law enforcement, state bureaus, DA offices, and other investigative units. Doug can be reached directly HERE.

 

Case Closed Software user HCSO featured on Investigation Discovery Network

When the sleepy town of Mooresburg, TN receives news that beloved teacher Margaret Jack Sliger is murdered on her farm, Hawkins County detectives are charged with finding the sinister perpetrator to bring their community justice.
ID Network (Investigation Discovery) recently aired an episode of the popular program “Murder Comes To Town” featuring Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) in Tennessee. The story surrounds the 2015 murder death of 79 year old Margaret Sliger in Mooresburg, TN and the 2 year effort to solve and prosecute the crime.
Case Closed Software® is proud to be the investigation case management software provider for HCSO, and to be associated with the agency.
If you subscribe to ID Network, you can view the episode HERE.
 

Attack of the Drones

Police drones are becoming more and more commonly utilized by law enforcement agencies across the world. As of 2017 there were 347 American police departments using unmanned aerial technology. This number represents a 518% increase over a two year time period. Police are quickly catching on to how drone technology can help make police work easier and safer.
police-droneOne of the ways drones are being utilized is in surveillance. Drones have the ability to reach vantage points that would either be impossible for an officer to reach, or expose the officer to danger. A drone can get to a great vantage point without having to compromise the safety of an officer. This ability is especially useful in an active shooter scenario, where the lives of the law enforcement officers are on the line.
Being able to view and assess threats remotely not only minimizes risk, but allows police to formulate a strategy. Drones can also minimize risk to bystanders. If a suspect were to commit a crime then run into a crowd of people, a drone would be able to track the suspect through the crowd rather than have officers run after and risk harm to an innocent bystander. The video footage from the droid can make an important addition to an investigation case management platform.
Drones are also being used in crime scene analysis. By combining drone technology with 3D mapping technology, police are able to make a navigable rendering of the crime scene based on aerial photographs. This can be used to recreate scenarios such as traffic accidents, or to search for previously unnoticed details in a crime scene.
police-drones-latimes-2011Search and rescue missions are also aided by drone technology. When lives are on the line, time is of the essence. A drone can cover large areas in a short amount of time, and with a thermal imaging camera attached, it can more easily spot a person than human eyes can – especially in the dark. Drones can also be used to monitor large crowds, not only to observe any possible criminal actions, but also to see if any person in the crowd needs medical assistance but cannot signal for it.
Drones are an extremely useful technology and are only becoming better and more affordable. Law enforcement can utilize them not only to better prevent crime, but to reduce the risk that officers take in the field every day. And in a situation where officers are putting their lives on the line, it’s good to have a friend than can fly.