Car break-ins are frustrating. Frustrating for the victims, frustrating for those who are concerned that they may be victimized, and frustrating for police. Chiefs seem to be on a never ending course to eliminate – or at least reduce – the occurrence of these crimes. And when something stays on the chief’s radar you can be sure it will flow down the chain of command.
If you are seeking to be promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, the oral board or assessment center game changes. Having worked with promotion candidates for as long as I have, I frequently see lieutenant candidates answer questions in sergeant mode rather than lieutenant mode. The simple fix that I recommend is to be sure their situational questions include delegating to sergeants when appropriate.
Here’s how I would answer a car break-in question if I were pursuing a lieutenant’s position.
How will you reduce car break-ins as a lieutenant?
Lieutenant Oral Board Answer Transcript for a Car Break Reduction Question
I have given this a lot of thought and when possible, I have been taking steps with the police officers currently assigned to me to reduce car breaks. As a lieutenant, I will have more resources and more responsibility. I see this as my opportunity to be even more influential in reducing car breaks by using a three-prong approach.
First, I will apply my goal-directed & participative leadership style with my sergeants and encourage those sergeants to do the same with their officers. I will charge the sergeants assigned to me to provide me with car break stats for their areas of responsibility. I will then set an achievable crime reduction goal for each sergeant while seeking the sergeants’ input on how to achieve that goal. We will find an approach on which we both agree and the sergeant will be responsible for executing that approach with their officers within a specific deadline and with interim reporting periods.
Second, within the discussion on possible approaches, the sergeant will be required to have a plan that addresses all three elements of the crime triangle: victims, offenders, and place. By applying a multi-modal approach the likelihood of disrupting behaviors is increased. By modifying the behavior of potential victims, a target hardening and opportunity reduction can occur. By focusing on place, crime prevention through environmental design should be evaluated for practical adjustments that make the likelihood of criminal detection and apprehension more apparent, serving as a deterrent for criminals. And by compiling a list of past offenders and their patterns, valuable intelligence will be available that may be applied in identifying and apprehending current offenders.
Third, the SARA problem solving model will be applied. Scanning will identify pattern locations, Analyzing will give factual data on past incidents that will assist in evaluating police options, Responding will be the variety of actions that the sergeant will be executing with their team, and Assessing will be reflected in the crime analysis reports that compare past and current car break incident rates.
It is my belief that this three prong approach is the most comprehensive way for me to manage resources toward a specific crime reduction goal. Although total eradication of car breaks is not likely to be fully attained, I am confident that by effectively engaging and leading my sergeants and their officers we will make progress for our community with this frustrating crime.
And that is how I will address car-breaks as a lieutenant.