Fremont, California

David Thacher
Harvard University
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management

Case Study Prepared for the Urban Institute


Fremont, California is a relatively wealthy1 Silicon Valley community of nearly 200,000 residents. Its population is growing increasingly diverse; once predominantly white, in the last ten to twenty years the city has attracted many new residents from almost every Asian nationality—from Afghan, to Indian, to Chinese—, as well as a growing number of Latinos. Census data, which classify immigrants from places like Iran as “Caucasian,” underestimate this diversity, but a recent school district survey found that nearly half of Fremont’s residents are linguistic minorities. Crime has always been relatively low in Fremont, and the city has consistently ranked among the safest U.S. cities larger than 100,000 population.

The Fremont Police Department (FPD) has at least since the early 1970s been a highly competent and innovative organization. For one, it has experimented with a number of organizational innovations that helped pave the way for community policing (which in Fremont goes by the name of Community Oriented Police Problem Solving, or C.O.P.P.S.). But perhaps most important, it has maintained a culture of service and professionalism that would seem to be a prerequisite to a policing philosophy like C.O.P.P.S. Rana Sampson, a consultant to innumerable police departments around the country, recalls her impression of Fremont officers when she came to the city on the eve of its transformation: “It’s a very professional department. It’s not . . . riddled with personnel problems, lawsuits, anger, or bitterness. It’s not a department that cuts illegal corners to provide your services.” Moreover, organizational consultant Tom Anderson, who has worked with police departments throughout California, remarks that Fremont has “always been a very creative, innovative, progressive department,” describing that orientation as the department’s “tradition.”

This tradition has meant that the FPD has been quick to adopt cutting-edge innovations as they have emerged in the policing community: In the 1970s, the department adopted a team policing program that assigned officers by geography and encouraged them to interact with the community. But early in the 1980s, Fremont police began to emphasize technology and tactics to protect the public’s safety. It was not until around 1993 that the pendulum begin to swing back towards community participation in Fremont, this time under the rubric of “community policing,” which arrived by way of the new chief of police, Craig Steckler.
In any case, on the cusp of that transformation, the FPD’s innovation and professionalism were apparent throughout the department: Police enjoyed a mostly open relationship with the community and city hall (even if in the past, their collaboration with other agencies was somewhat weak—as was interagency collaboration in general around Fremont); they maintained state-of-the art, proactive operational and administrative systems; and their management was well-schooled in contemporary ideas. Consider each of these four areas in turn.

1. Relationship to the Environment

Authorizing Environment
During the 1980s, the Fremont PD primarily looked to the police community for guidance about the choices it made. The department was well-connected to California policing circles: Its Chief, Robert Wasserman, was widely known in the state as an innovative police leader, and many FPD managers attended California’s Police Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) system of police command colleges. Partly as a result, the FPD participated in many of the tactical and technological innovations that were emerging in the field.

Locally, the FPD had a good relationship with city government and the community. On the community side, the FPD did not face the accusations of bias and incompetence that plagued many police departments operating under the traditional model: Civil suits against officers were rare, as were internal affairs investigations in general. On the government side, the FPD enjoyed a strong reputation: Public safety always took a high priority in budget deliberations, and in 1992 the council formally voted to adopt that goal as the top priority for Fremont’s government.

But although the police-city relationship was positive, it was not necessarily strong in day-to-day decisionmaking. City hall had some influence over police decision-making, particularly through the annual budgeting process. But many police and city officials report that the city manager had somewhat less direct input into police issues than is the case today. For example, though the manager has always met regularly with all department heads, these meeting are more frequent today, and they are more likely to focus on long-term planning in the departments and in the city rather than the current council agenda. Nevertheless, during the 1980s and early 1990s the manager’s office did help push a number of changes important to the FPD, like bringing in new communications equipment and decriminalizing several municipal code violations (like parking and traffic violations, public disturbances, and animal control ordinances).

The Elusive Community
Community members—and sometimes community groups—also played a role in setting the FPD’s day-to-day priorities. For example, the traffic unit always made it a practice to check out community complaints (such as complaints about speeding on a particular street), whether phoned in by individual citizens, raised by groups at neighborhood meetings, or even brought to a city councilor’s attention. More generally, many officers describe the premium past administrations put on community relations.2

Nevertheless, the FPD has always faced some practical challenges to building relationships with Fremont’s “community,” which rarely organizes around neighborhood quality-of-life issues. To be sure, the FPD has for some time organized Neighborhood Watch groups, and that program has grown rapidly in recent years—Fremont now lists over 800 of these groups, though some meet only once a year. But most residents seem to direct their civic energy towards other types of organizations, like PTAs, merchant’s associations, cultural groups, and homeowners’ associations. Homeowner groups, in particular, took off in the 1980s, as new tract housing developments and gated communities sprang up throughout the city.

In the 1970s, the FPD organized its patrol force with an eye towards building links to these diverse associations, which rarely approached police on their own. During this period, the city was divided into four sectors to which every patrol officer was assigned, and each sector designated a particular officer as its “Adam car” (a position that brought a slight pay increase). Part of Fremont’s team policing program, Adam cars counted the role of community liaison among their additional responsibilities. For example, Adam cars were supposed to keep tabs on all of the area’s community activity and attend any relevant meetings—which reportedly included not just neighborhood watch meetings, but also those for groups like PTAs and business associations. The Adam car officer was expected to follow up on problems raised in these forums, coordinating the activities of the other sector cars where necessary.

But by the early 1980s, the FPD had done away with the Adam car. The change was actually intended to strengthen community ties, for the “designated officer” system had seemed unintentionally to absolve other officers from responsibility for community problem solving. But in practice the change did not have its intended effect, since it roughly coincided with a broad philosophical shift that FPD veterans describe—a shift away from the community orientation associated with “team policing” and towards a more technology-driven philosophy. In the words of Steve Blair, a twenty-year veteran of the FPD who is currently president of the Police Officer’s Association: “[In the] late seventies or start of the eighties we moved away, at least in my view, from a person- and victim-oriented philosophy or approach to [an approach where] everything was stat-driven.” So although community input was hardly shut out, and programs like Neighborhood Watch still existed, other forms of police-community problem-solving took a back seat as the FPD turned its attention towards the improvement of internal systems.

The Task Environment
Nevertheless, during much of this period the FPD clearly valued customer service, and it has even turned to the community and elected officials to help set its priorities. So on these scores, some of the groundwork for C.O.P.P.S. had already been laid. But where its task environment is concerned—the organizations and groups that the FPD has looked to for help in getting its job done—, the department had not yet formed the necessary links.

It is not, of course, that Fremont agencies and community institutions never worked together to coordinate their routine business or to tackle specific community projects. For example, Fremont police have long received domestic violence training from a local nonprofit named SAVE, which provides services for domestic violence victims (who in turn are often referred by the FPD). In city hall, the FPD has served on interdepartmental committees and otherwise worked with city agencies for some time. For example, FPD officers have referred neighborhood problems to the city’s code enforcement officers for years, even if they did so less frequently than they do today. And Fire Chief Dan Lydon maintains that despite improved collaboration between his agency and the FPD on some fronts today, front-line officers in the two departments enjoyed a close relationship in years past, since the relatively decentralized Fire Department offered police many homes away from home in its neighborhood fire stations.

Nevertheless, most agency employees remember some difficulties in their collaborations with city police. The overriding problem seems to have been what some call a “silo” approach to service delivery, in which each city agency cultivated a distinct area of competence that others were not expected to question, and which often undermined joint decision-making. For example, the FPD has for years participated in Fremont’s City Technical Coordinating Committee (CTCC), which meets weekly to talk about all new projects coming into the planning department for approval. Roger Shanks, senior planner in charge of current planning for Fremont’s Development and Environmental Services department (DES, aka “planning”), explains the committee as “a chance for projects to get up there and get thrown in front of a group,” so that different agencies can comment on the projects. “By having everybody in the same room,” he explains, “we get feedback back and forth between different divisions.” But in the past Fremont agencies typically focused narrowly on their own concerns in these deliberations, and the FPD was no exception:

Shanks sums up the problem by saying that many police suffered from “tunnel vision.”

Other city departments felt the same difficulties with the FPD and with each other, with the result that each agency tended to keep to itself. For example, Maintenance and Recreation Director Jack Rogers explains that police sometimes shot down events his office proposed on the grounds that they might potentially create safety problems (for example, by bringing together rival youth from opposite ends of town). “There were times when I may even have hesitated calling the police department, telling them I was putting together a big activity, because I knew they were going put the kibosh on it. So you look around and you say, ‘My job is to run some of these things and their job is to avoid all risk.’”

More broadly, tunnel vision in the FPD translated into a definite sense that the police were separate from city government. Department members apparently conveyed that sense regularly, as most Fremont city employees remember it well; Economic Development Director Ann Draper is one example:

This perception—the belief that police saw themselves as different from the rest of city government—was apparently quite widespread in Fremont, as it is reported by a number of agency heads as well as council members like Mayor Gus Morrison, who has held elective offices in Fremont for the better part of two decades.

The Criminal Justice System
By contrast, the FPD did work actively to build relationships with some outside agencies in the criminal justice world. Most notably, it worked closely with some area police departments by participating in task forces and maintaining a strong presence in the Alameda County Chief’s Association. To be sure, jurisdictional lines were more firmly entrenched in the past than they are today: For example, a number of officers report that the FPD tended to neglect problems at the local commuter rail station on the grounds that they were the responsibility of the transit police. But for the most part, relationships with other police agencies were strong.

On the other hand, the FPD found frustration on the court and corrections side of the criminal justice system. The arrests Fremont sent through the system were typically for less serious offenses than the ones emanating from its neighbors to the North: For example, Fremont is in the same county (and hence court system) as Oakland, but that city has around six times Fremont’s rate of index crimes. The result, according to many, was that the county criminal justice agencies did not treat the FPD’s cases as seriously as the local community would have liked—a tension that would drive some of the department’s C.O.P.P.S.-related innovations.

2. Operations
In the years leading up to C.O.P.P.S., the FPD assigned its operations to two divisions: Operations (which included patrol and investigations) and Support Services (which housed dispatch and staffed the jail, in addition to a few administrative functions). The department grew steadily throughout the 1980s, with the exception of a recessionary period beginning in 1985, and by 1991 it employed 303 personnel, about two-thirds of them sworn officers. When recession hit again in that year, the department had to lay off five non-sworn personnel and essentially stop hiring; by the time it reached its low point in 1993, staffing was down to 269, of which 180 were sworn officers.

Patrol was the largest division throughout this period (for example, in 1994, 119 officers were assigned to patrol, while 20 were assigned to investigations and the special units reporting to it). 14 patrol officers were assigned to a specialized traffic unit that was essentially separate from the rest of the division, but most officers worked for the patrol force proper. The structure of that force changed somewhat over the years, but on the eve of C.O.P.P.S., the FPD divided the city’s 92 square miles into 6 different geographic zones, each patrolled by 2-3 officers at a time. Each officer usually kept the same zone for three years, but the FPD did not otherwise privilege geography in its patrol force: Officers reported to sergeants on the basis of days off rather than zone, so that each sergeant formally supervised officers scattered throughout the city.

In any case, patrol officers had many duties in Fremont, including 911 response and random patrol, but also including proactive problem-solving and investigations (as described below). 911 response put a premium on customer service, and officers were specially trained in victim assistance.

Beyond these basic duties, Fremont has also expected its officers to engage in problem-solving for some time—at least since the 1970s, when Chief John Fabbri brought team policing and many other reforms to the department. After a hiatus of a few years in the early 1980s, team policing was succeeded by a new problem-solving technology called Crime Coordinating Action Teams (CCAT), which officers still use today.

CCATs generally focused on geographically-concentrated problems identified by officers themselves or through crime analysis. The typical response to these problems, according to many FPD members from the period, was a focused, zero-tolerance saturation patrol. CCATs could become fairly large, involving several officers and even investigators across different shifts. For example, one officer remembers:

Fremont’s efforts were clearly more analytic than many other police departments’ “problem-solving” or directed patrol activities, as crime data played an integral part in plotting the response to neighborhood problems.

CCAT had a few limitations, however. One was that responses were fairly stock, limited to focused patrol and investigations; CCATs rarely involved outside agencies or collaboration with the community. Another was that the structure of the patrol force made it difficult to find time for problem-solving: Since each zone had only 2-3 officers, there was little slack available to cover for an officer’s absence, making it risky to go out-of-service to spend time at a problem location. Still, the FPD was apparently fairly generous in using overtime to support problem-solving work, so officers could often find needed time in that way.

Unlike most police departments of its size, the Fremont Police Department expects patrol officers to undertake most investigations themselves. One FPD detective explains that while in most larger police departments, officers play the role of report-taker, Fremont officers have always taken the alternative role of generalist. Even for relatively serious crimes like robberies, the responding officer typically investigates the incident until her leads have run out.

The detective unit itself was and is relatively small, assigning 15 officers and 2 sergeants in a department of close to 200 sworn positions. In the eyes of detectives and officers alike, the role of investigations is to support patrol work. In part this role means literally helping patrol officers as they investigate crimes themselves—for example, showing them how to use the computer search system or guiding them through idiosyncratic cases. But sometimes support means taking over cases that promise to burn up too much time (like serious robberies or homicides) or that demand special expertise (like high-technology crimes). But as a general rule, patrol officers will handle cases as far as they can; the FPD has always had a strong norm against unwelcome infringement on a patrol officer’s caseload.

Throughout the 1980s (and continuing on through today), the investigations unit mostly employed generalist detectives, though some had special assignments like high-technology crimes or crimes against persons. In addition to the sworn detectives, investigations also employed a few non-sworn uniformed officers: Nonsworn Crime Scene Investigators collected and analyzed physical evidence, and one Community Service Officer investigated less serious cases like missing persons and bad checks and acted as liaison to the coroner. Investigations also maintained a specialized drug unit for part of the 1980s, as well as a small problem-solving unit known as the MUPPETs. (Two of this unit’s officers were always on short-term assignment from the patrol force, where they had identified a neighborhood problem that demanded more time than they could muster on patrol.) Finally, the FPD’s Community Relations unit (later renamed to Community Partnerships) reported to the Investigative Services division, overseeing activities like Neighborhood Watch, DARE, and the small volunteer program.

3. Administrative Systems
The FPD’s experimental temperament led it to develop and refine many organizational systems during the 1980s. In particular, it began to rely increasingly on technology to help organize and support patrol work, and more generally to rationalize the department’s administration.

The technological developments in Fremont were dramatic. Mike Lanam, a twenty-year veteran of the FPD who oversaw the transition to C.O.P.P.S., remembers that starting in the early 1980s the department began introducing new technologies at a breakneck pace: “All this technology exploded . . . Computer-aided dispatch, records management systems, laptop computers, M.D.T.s, fancier police cars that could tell you where the officer was in the city by satellite.” One driving force behind these developments was the region’s flush economy, which offered up plenty of funding for the new technological systems. Another was the influence of the state’s law enforcement community; according to Lanam, “It was just the next phase, and I think all police departments were going through that, especially in California.” Indeed, police consultant Rana Sampson maintains that the police profession in California has developed a decided penchant for technology, and more generally for developing analytic capacity:

Fremont was clearly influenced by these statewide trends—it sent many of its managers to the command college Sampson refers to, and it participated actively in state and regional professional associations—, but in many cases it outpaced them. For example, Fremont was among the first cities in the state to equip patrol cars with laptop computers for report-writing and data retrieval.

Crime analysis was particularly advanced, and it fed into the problem-solving systems described above. The department’s record management system facilitated many types of searches, including geographic searches for particular types of crime, as well as modus operandi searches for crimes committed in a particular way. In the early 1990s the crime analysis unit lost some of its ability to support patrol work in this way, as it shut down temporarily, switched systems, and increasingly took on the job of report review. But these developments only revealed how important analysis had become in the department, as officers expressed their frustration when they couldn’t get the information they had once relied on.

Nevertheless, this analytic sophistication had some limits that had to do not with technical capability, but with strategy. Lanam maintains: “We could do anything with a computer, and we can give you all the analysis in the world, but then what will you do with that information? We can tell you where the crimes were and maybe the profile of who was doing it, but we are still playing cops and robbers, we are still trying to catch the crook versus trying to prevent it from happening in the first place.” Indeed, that underlying assumption—that police work meant identifying and arresting individual offenders—drove the design and use of many administrative systems. Crime analysis, for example, was used principally for CCATs and investigations, both of which sought to enforce the law against individual offenders.

Moreover, personnel systems for evaluating officers also encouraged the “cops and robbers” game, and many felt that they had become overly systematized and narrowly-focused. Association president Blair, for example, recalls:

The system earned widespread derision among officers: Even those who did not question the underlying philosophy of police as law enforcers resisted being pegged as numbers; and they became somewhat cynical about how easy it was to manipulate the system.

These limitations aside, the FPD’s administrative systems underwent much development and innovation throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The department worked with outside consultants and systems analysts extensively, and these relationships helped it become particularly adept at strategic planning and evaluation. For example, management consultant Tom Anderson met repeatedly with FPD command staff to work through sessions on goal-setting, management by objectives, and improving performance standards. Ultimately, these capacities and the relationships that fed them would play an important role in the transition to C.O.P.P.S.

4. Management
It is inherently difficult to reconstruct something as subtle and subjective as managerial practice, but two things stand out about FPD management in the period before C.O.P.P.S. First of all, most in the department—particularly officers—have a general sense that they were afforded significant discretion in their work. One officer maintains, “The difference with our department is they give us so much more freedom at the patrol level, that's why a lot of these projects, they come right from us out on the street. . . . That's just how we were trained here from day one. . . It was part of our training originally and it's just always been expected of us.” Some managers report that past administrations kept a tighter rein on things like the use of overtime, and that dissent was less welcome in departmental decisionmaking. Nevertheless, most agree that discretion was accepted and even encouraged.

On the other hand, some aspects of that discretion were more centralized than they are today. For example, one long-time department member explains the difference between CCATs and C.O.P.P.S. projects in terms of who initiates individual projects:

Another FPD manager, echoing the sentiments of others, maintains that past managers were more likely to play a supervisory role than a support role: “The people when I hired on are retired now, so for the people that are in there now it is a learning process. Because their mentors did not ask us what we should be doing. They told us what we should do . . . So a lot of it is a different management style.” Thus the main flow of departmental initiative tended to run from top to bottom rather than the reverse—a circumstance that C.O.P.P.S.-related reforms would try to alter.


1. The Development of A Vision
In many cities community policing takes hold by force, as scandal or strong-willed politicians drive local police to “open up to the community” and try new ways of tackling growing problems. By contrast, Fremont moved towards C.O.P.P.S. by choice, without explicit pressure or crisis. To be sure, citywide changes in the philosophy of government did feed into community policing in important ways, but those changes did not emerge until after the FPD had taken its first steps towards C.O.P.P.S. And although a recession-driven resource crisis and growing frustration with the criminal justice system did help spur the department on in new directions, neither pressure was severe enough to force the FPD to change. Instead, to understand why the department turned to community policing, one needs to understand the Chief who made the initial decision to do so, and the route he took to Fremont.

Chief Steckler
Craig Steckler came to the FPD as a deputy chief in 1986, serving under Chief Robert Wasserman and beside Deputy Chief Jim Noonan. Steckler had been brought on as a potential replacement for Wasserman, who intended to retire in a few years; according to Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison (then a city councilor), the city manager “knew Wasserman was going to retire soon, and he didn’t want to have a situation where there was only one logical replacement.” So Fremont created a second Deputy Chief position, and Steckler wound up with the job offer.

At the time Steckler was Chief of police in nearby Piedmont, a much smaller city of about 10,000 residents. Steckler had wanted to find a Chief’s job in a larger police department, and he saw the deputy chief’s job in Fremont as a stepping-stone—before that his only command experience had been in the smaller California cities of Piedmont and San Clemente. In any case, he got the position and held it until 1992, when Wasserman announced his intention to retire and run for city council in early 1992. At that time, city manager Roger Anderman started a national search for a permanent replacement, naming Steckler the city’s Acting Chief in the interim.

When he took that job in March of 1992, Steckler found himself in the middle of budgetary turmoil, as California’s recession had forced Fremont to make substantial cuts, and Anderman immediately asked him to cut positions. Most of the cuts were made through attrition, but Steckler had to lay off a handful of CSOs, and in doing so he incited the ire of some of his force. As he explains:

But the budgetary problems had another effect as well, as they seemed to put some FPD members in a reflective mood: The department’s past strategies, based on technology and sheer manpower, were not sustainable in the new fiscal environment. Lanam recalls: “We could not throw staffing and police officers and equipment at all the problems. We had to figure out a better way of doing business.”

Steckler himself felt that community policing was the better way. He brought that conviction with him from his previous work in Piedmont and San Clemente, where a close relationship with the community had been a way of life. “My background was basically smaller departments,” he explains. “San Clemente was about 40 people, and Piedmont was 27. And just by the nature of a small . . . beach community, [they] had a more casual, laid-back way of dealing with the issues of the community. And by virtue of being small, [they were] closer to the community.” Steckler did not want to push these sorts of changes as Acting Chief: Aside from the incomplete mandate his title implied, he did not want to mix up community policing with the tumultuous budget fight that was going on. But as he interviewed for the Chief’s position with Anderman and the various search panels, he made no secret of his intention to bring community policing to Fremont.

Nevertheless, that intention apparently had little to do with Anderman’s ultimate decision to give Steckler the job. The city manager reportedly did not have any specific vision for the FPD—indeed, many in Fremont remember Anderman less as a visionary than as an analyst—, and the only charge he gave the new Chief was to “keep cutting the budget.” He apparently appointed Steckler only because his experience clearly surpassed the competition, and perhaps (according to Steckler himself) because he had been able to pull off the budget cuts the city needed. Steckler admits that he and Anderman did not see eye-to-eye on many issues, and one knowledgeable observer reports that Anderman “was [not] too keen on Craig,” but that “when he got all done seeing what was available, Craig got the job.” Steckler took over the Chief’s job as a probationary appointment in June of 1992, receiving a permanent appointment one year later, on July 1, 1993.

First Steps
Steckler held off on community policing for some time after becoming Chief on the grounds that other business demanded his immediate attention: The budget was still in crisis, and more dramatically, an officer had sued the department for discrimination when Steckler denied his promotion. “That was kind of tearing the organization apart,” Steckler remembers. “So I hired a consultant to come in and said, ‘We have got to do some major problem-solving and get over these issues that are right in front of us so that we can look at the future.’” The process put community policing on hold for five more months, but Steckler felt that the time was not right for a new initiative.

As these immediate crises wore down, the department began exploring the idea of community policing. The early discussions and research took place mostly among Steckler and the FPD’s captains (the department no longer had deputy chief positions), and that group tried to learn everything it could about community policing by reading up on the concept and attending seminars about it. Steckler also discussed the idea with Tom Anderson, a management consultant who had a longstanding relationship with the FPD and who had earned a strong reputation in the police world by helping several California police departments make the transition to community policing.

In their discussions, Anderson worked with Steckler to help develop the Chief’s ideas about C.O.P.P.S. and organizational change. In particular, Anderson posed what he describes as “tough questions” for Steckler about why he wanted to move towards community policing: Was it simply that the idea was coming into vogue, or was it that the Chief had, in Anderson’s words, “a personal and professional belief that there seemed to be a solid base to it, and a rationale that it made sense.”3 Steckler felt the latter, and although he admits that he did not properly articulate his reasoning to his troops at the outset, his position was based on a thorough consideration of the trends Fremont faced:

Thus Steckler’s essential intuition was that although Fremont had been successful in the past, it would face new challenges in the future as the city grew and matured. Moreover, the current budget crisis suggested that the past response to trouble—hiring more bodies and spending more on technology—might not be feasible if crime did become a more significant problem.

Envisioning C.O.P.P.S.
Steckler recognized that Fremont needed to do more work on refining precisely what alternative would meet the challenges he expected: Since his city was different from many of the places that had tried community policing, he did not want simply to import the current fashions. “I told the organization, ‘I don’t want to pick a model’,” he remembers. “I don’t want Portland’s model or Hayward’s model or Santa Ana’s model and overlay it on Fremont. I mean, we are very different, and we will have our own model.’”

As a first step towards doing this, in March of 1995 he hired Anderson to lead a three-day team-building workshop in which the department would flesh out the program Steckler wanted to follow. At the same time, Steckler and others hoped to begin building support for the ideas by starting a participatory process of deciding what the reforms would consist of. To that end, he invited not only his command staff (lieutenants, captains, civilian managers, and himself), but also representatives from the sergeant rank, as well as the president, vice president, and secretary of the Police Officer’s Association (POA). Thinking specifically of the POA, Steckler explains: “We wanted them to be in on the initial steps and have the buy-in.”

In any case, Anderson remembers these sessions as fluid and open: “We had a general direction, [but] we weren’t certain where we were going to end up. We just knew that we wanted to put together the operational building blocks for community policing.” Significantly, Steckler apparently took an open attitude towards the planning process—an attitude that many feel contributed to the sessions’ productivity. Anderson, for example, maintains: “Chief Steckler was extremely open and receptive to a somewhat non-structured workshop session. [He] made it clear that anyone at the session could speak out on whatever they felt and believed to be important as it related to the implementation of C.O.P.P.S.”

The workshop had two objectives: To define C.O.P.P.S. and its various components, and to develop a basic outline of how to get there. In creating a definition of community policing, Anderson pushed the group to be concrete and thorough:

In particular, the group—picking up on Steckler’s commitment to transform the whole organization—spent considerable time focusing on how FPD units outside patrol would be affected, a topic that many felt had not been adequately addressed in the literature and in other departments. As a result, moving into new territory meant engaging in a dialogue about untried ideas.

The substance of the emerging vision had two main cornerstones: Problem-solving based on a richer analysis of causes than officers had traditionally used, and collaboration with the community and its institutions. The problem-solving element was somewhat difficult to distinguish from what FPD officers had been doing for the past twenty years, since systems like CCAT and team policing had an established history in the department. Mike Lanam, who would go on to spearhead the community policing effort, explains that he himself initially saw community policing as a way to return to past strategies: “I [was] looking back and saying, ‘Well this is basically what we did in the 70s,’” he remembers. “But then the more and more I looked at it, it was not.”

At the same time, Lanam and others did not want to overemphasize the break with the past, lest they would undermine support for the new ideas within the ranks: “[We were] telling the officers just take the next step,” he remembers. “Not that what you are doing is wrong, but just take it to the next step.”

The second cornerstone of Fremont’s emerging vision was looking beyond traditional law enforcement resources. As Lanam explains it, the guiding ideal was to create a community capable of self-regulation, as in this example he gives:

In focusing on these twin ideals, the team self-consciously tried to synthesize community policing and problem-oriented policing. Lanam remembers: “We were not just going to take the community-based approach or the problem-solving approach because you had—God knows for what reason—a battle of philosophies or tactics going out there: ‘This is C.O.P. and this is P.O.P.’ They are the same thing. You need the same tools to accomplish it, you need community involvement and problem solving.”

Mike Lanam and The Community Policing Office
Beyond the substantive vision of community policing, the team-building sessions moved on to consider implementation issues as well, taking a first stab at listing the essential tasks the department would have to perform. As Anderson remembers it, that meant answering questions like “Where would we start? How would we start? Who would have to do what? How much advertising do we have to do internally and externally?” The major conclusion to come out of this part of the discussion was the decision to appoint a single captain in charge of implementation4—in Anderson’s words, “somebody [with] the responsibility to handle the implementation, to be there every day to answer all the questions, all the concerns. When people are pissed and are confused, this person has to jump into the midst of it all and say, ‘Hey we can work our way out of it.’ So they had to be the director, the morale advisor, and all those kinds of things.”

Lanam got the job without much warning. As Steckler remembers it, he essentially made the assignment in the middle of the team-building sessions during a hallway discussion with Tom Anderson, at which time Anderson reiterated what the POA and the sergeants had pressed: “Tom Anderson and I were talking and he says, ‘You know you really have to have this one command person’ . . . And we were standing outside and Mike came walking up, and I said, ‘Mike, I have a job for you when we get back into the session.’ We got back in and boom. I laid it on him.” Still, the choice was not entirely arbitrary, as Steckler had high respect for Lanam’s abilities and felt that he would be eminently capable of carrying out the job.

Steckler outlined the job clearly and decisively: His participatory style up to this point had been so thorough that some were mumbling that their Chief was too laissez-faire—that he did everything by committee. “So I looked at everything that was up there and I said, ‘OK, now I am flying by the seat of my pants.’ But I said, ‘OK, see what you put up there? Well here is how it is going to be. Boom, boom, boom. And I started laying out what the reporting lines were going to be during the implementation phase. . . . Office of community policing, put Mike in charge, an administrative analyst to help.” Formally, Lanam’s job was to head up a new Office of Community Policing that would report directly to the Chief. He was charged with leading the FPD into community policing by continuing the research that had already begun, developing a detailed plan of action, and coordinating the organizational and policy changes that would be necessary to carry it out. Three units would report directly to him—the Personnel and Training division, the Community Relations Unit (renamed to Community Police Partnerships), and the 5-person M.U.P.P.E.T.S. unit—, but he did not have chain-of-command authority over the rest of the organization. Lanam explains:

In other words, the Chief promised his support for any defensible ideas that emerged out of the participatory process Lanam planned to embark on—something Lanam felt was necessary if that process was to have credibility.

The Site Visits
Before he got on with the implementation itself, Lanam felt he needed to do two things: Undertake a more systematic program of research, and develop a formal plan for C.O.P.P.S. The department had already done significant book research and sent top managers to several seminars, but Lanam did not think that was enough. “I don’t believe everything that is written,” he explains. “I think there is a lot of creative report writing going on out there right now, and we knew from our own experience from other agencies that some chiefs were touting that they had the greatest police organization going, and their officers were not saying the same thing.” There was clearly something to learn from the pioneers that had had the courage to try community policing in the 1980s, but the only way to find it out would be through direct observation: “If the organizational change had been truly made,” Lanam explains, “we wanted to see first hand from the officers and from the staff why the change had been made and what they thought the strong points and weak points were.”5

The plan Lanam developed involved visits to nine sites identified by community policing experts as leading-edge departments. He proposed to send about 40 members of the department from diverse ranks and specialties on the trips, charging each team with collecting some standardized information about the department it visited. The initiative would obviously be expensive, but he and others reasoned that the expense was justified: “We figured an extremely important component was laying the foundation down right and doing the research,” Lanam explains. In the event, the department was able to seize on the budgeting flexibility city hall gave it, reshuffling training and equipment funds to pay for the effort. (Over the years, the FPD also negotiated with the city for more and different types of training in its annual budget.)

Lanam chose the teams by soliciting volunteers and then—since he got 80 applicants for 40 slots—submitting them to a peer evaluation, which would allow everyone a say in choosing who would represent the department. “We just gave them a list,” Lanam explains. “They were to rank people that had volunteered, in order of who they thought would serve their research best as far as being conscientious in their involvement, not just going because it was a free trip or whatever.” The element of self-selection in the choice of teams was apparently somewhat of a problem: Some veteran officers who were skeptical of community policing resisted participating on principle, and some groups outside of patrol did not think they would learn much by participating; for example, one dispatcher reports: “Dispatchers did not want to participate. We had this person that went to San Diego, but . . . no one had [much] to show us anyway as far as the dispatch went. So it would have been a waste probably, because no one had anything for us to pick up on.” Nevertheless, Lanam tried to encourage various groups to participate, and in the end the teams represented a fairly broad cross-section of the department (even if some specialties did not visit all nine departments).
The research was clearly a defining moment in the department, remembered well by those who participated as well as many who did not. The teams visited police agencies all over the country (including places as geographically dispersed as Newport News, Virginia; Madison, Wisconsin; Longmount, Colorado; and Portland, Oregon) and even one outside of it (Edmonton, Alberta). Each team took on one department—Lanam was the only person to visit more than one site—, trying as best as it could to learn about all aspects of community policing there, and how all of the agency’s various divisions contributed to it. The teams then prepared detailed reports describing the results of their observations, including standardized six-page questionnaires, as well as a more open-ended summaries of the main lessons they took away from the sites. Finally, Lanam synthesized these findings into an overall report that focused on 9 different aspects of community policing, reporting on things like the varieties of community policing, philosophies, styles of management and supervision, and the role of the community.

Fremont took a number of very specific lessons away from the visits. In part, Lanam reports, the department simply learned mistakes to avoid: “They said [one department] is a great department, but they forgot all about the dispatchers. So we did not make that mistake. [Another department], they forgot all about the sergeants. So we did not make that mistake. [A third department], they forgot all about the F.T.O.s, but we did not make that mistake.”

More positively, Fremont explicitly stole many of the good ideas it found: For example, the FPD took its Reporting Area (RA) program (described below) directly from Longmount, Colorado; it modeled its joint police-community training sessions, as well as some of its strategic planning process, on those in Portland, Oregon; and it modeled its volunteer program on those it observed in Santa Ana and San Diego.

But as important as the specific lessons Fremont learned was the excitement the visits generated. Sampson, for example, could still feel it in the training sessions she ran a year later: “A lot of the people felt invested in this. They felt like, ‘Hey, we got to participate right from the beginning.’” Lanam feels that the experience even helped convert some of the skeptical officers:

Thus quite apart from the specific lessons Fremont took away from the sites—and it directly implemented many of them—, the site visits helped prime the department for change by creating a sizable group that was committed to the new ideas.

The Strategic Plan
Fresh from the site visits, Lanam embarked on the final phase of the visioning process: The development of a strategic plan that would guide the FPD into C.O.P.P.S. To develop the plan, Lanam had the assistance of Administrative Analyst Phil Hawthorne, a specialist in strategic planning who had a long career of systems analysis in government, academia, and the private sector.

The two-man team began by developing their own outline for the plan, starting with an assessment of current conditions. They insisted on leaving no stone unturned, using an entire wall to map out the department. Lanam remembers: “There was not an empty space on that wall. . . We looked at the community, we looked at the training, we looked at the educational model as far as how we were going to get more information . . . you name it and we had it on that wall. We just threw a tremendous amount of information up and tried to make sure that we were not going to miss too much.” He and Hawthorne continually checked their analysis with managers from the appropriate units, and though some found it overwhelming, many were able to provide feedback on the emerging plan. One FPD manager recalls, “I saw that originally and I thought ‘Oh, my God.’ But it turned out to be a good thing because it kept us on track.” In any case, over time the schematic evolved into a baseline for the plan that would develop.

From there, Lanam and Hawthorne outlined how each element of the organization needed to change, drawing particularly on what had been learned from the site visits. “What we did was bring back from what we had found in the other jurisdictions that we had studied the kinds of things that they found were necessary for transition,” Hawthorne explains. For example, all the sites visited had found that crime analysis was important in identifying and analyzing problems, so Hawthorne felt that Fremont would need to revive that unit and review its capabilities. He and Lanam then fed these new tasks into the massive departmental model they had developed, using the interdependencies outlined there to help sequence the necessary changes. “It became a pretty significant communication device for the two of us,” Hawthorne remembers of the wall diagram. “We could go up and get our hierarchies of activity so we knew what level we were dealing with. And we could relate where those outputs were going to go, and how soon we were going to be able to feed them to the people that were going to be the recipients.” In the end, the two men converted their conclusions into a milestone chart that outlined dozens of discrete tasks the organization needed to accomplish.

With this skeleton of a plan in place, Hawthorne and Lanam created eight committees charged with fleshing out several of the most important tasks. Here Hawthorne set some basic parameters, and he solicited relevant FPD divisions for volunteers. (Many participants in the site visits reportedly volunteered at this stage, having learned some specific program they wanted to bring to Fremont). But he left most of the decisionmaking for the committees, which were charged with diverse tasks like redefining roles, reducing workload, and improving training (later sections will describe the committee recommendations in more detail). When they had completed their reports and made their recommendations, it fell to Lanam to make sure the department carried them out. As he explains it, “The rule was that if they came up with a good idea that was well-thought-out and developed, it was our job to give it birth, so to speak, and to say ‘OK, it is a good idea, it is a calculated risk, let’s do it.’”

2. Marketing C.O.P.P.S. Inside the FPD
The task committees represented the final stage in a long process of visioning that sought to develop the idea of community policing in Fremont. Throughout that process, the department took a careful, studied approach; no outside force was insistently pushing for change, so the FPD could proceed at whatever pace it wanted.

Many credit the gradual pace of change, together with the caution and attention to justification that went with changes, with helping to build support for C.O.P.P.S. in Fremont. “They really did a good transition in that they took it slow,” one FPD manager maintains. “They started out with education, and they didn’t rush anybody.” Another department member remembers the early days of the transition in almost identical terms, emphasizing the careful way the administration dealt with nascent resistance:

For Lanam, going slowly and carefully was intimately tied to a need to explain every step of the way, a point he illustrates with an analogy:

In keeping with this philosophy, the administration did not rush community policing. In fact, it did not push for operational results (though it certainly welcomed any that emerged) until well into 1996, over two years after the “visioning” process had begun. Instead, it used that “start-up” time primarily for education and other prep-work.

Indeed, the FPD spent considerable time and money (cobbled together from other pieces of the budget, as allowed by the city’s bottom-line budgeting system) on education. “We almost gave up what it cost for a police officer for a period of time to make our training happen,” Lanam explains. “And it was well worth the investment, because what we got out of that, I think, was a lot more [from the] officers as a whole.” That education included philosophical introductions to community policing and problem-solving from well-known people in the field like Rana Sampson, Chris Braiden, and Professor Herman Goldstein. The department later brought Tom Anderson back on to help FPD staff operationalize the philosophy. For Anderson, that mandate meant acting as a mentor and a sounding-board: He met regularly with individual FPD staff (particularly sergeants, who Anderson sees as the backbone of community policing), helping them to think through particular problems they were working on, listening to their gripes about C.O.P.P.S., and conveying their concerns to FPD management.

In addition to taking the time for education and adjustment, Fremont also exercised caution in another way: By basing new initiatives on extensive research, and by making most of them experimental. With respect to the former, some in the FPD argue that the department’s painstaking research allowed it to forestall potential problems. For example, Steckler decided against the “specialized units” model of community policing because he had seen it lead to insurrection in other departments, where the “regular” patrol officers often resented the new “elite” community policing units. The latter tool, experimentation, was perhaps even more powerful in heading off resistance: The FPD adopted nearly every new initiative as a pilot program that could be discontinued after a year or so (often based on the result of a formal evaluation).

An example of that strategy at work comes from the department’s proposal to reorganize officers’ shifts—a proposal that called for the creation two teams of officers that worked four 11-hour days in sequence. Sergeant Mike Eads, who developed the idea and marketed it to the Police Officer’s Association, remembers that there was “A lot of uncertainty on the officers’ part . . . because it was such a significant change in their lifestyles.” Officers particularly worried about the length of the new shifts: “[It was] a much longer day,” Eads explains. “We went from a nine hour day to an eleven hour day. There were a lot of concerns about fatigue.” But when the idea came up for a vote in 1995, it narrowly passed. Eads argues that an important consideration in favor of the system was that it was experimental: “It was presented as a pilot project for the first year—a program that we could back away from if we needed to. There was a safety net built into it that if we did not like it, we could at least go back to the old traditional scheduling system.” In the event, the officers loved the new system, and the vote to make it permanent registered 98% in favor. In that way, the story echoes in many other FPD initiatives: The administration help assuage initial skepticism by promising that the programs could be discontinued if they did not work; but in almost every case, it was not actually necessary to do so.

C.O.P.P.S. as Social Work
Despite its studied attitude towards change, Fremont did face significant tension in the early days of C.O.P.P.S. Many department members seem to interpret this tension as a consequence of terminology. One explains: “To be honest with you, I felt that in this department, for many years, we had already been doing a lot of the C.O.P.P.S. kinds of things, we just weren't calling it C.O.P.P.S. In fact, I feel that calling it C.O.P.P.S. kind of created a stumbling block . . . All of a sudden there was a lot of confusion as to what it was that we were supposed to be doing, when all along, I think, we’d been doing a lot of these things.”6 Steckler himself regrets his choice of terms: “[Something] I did that was wrong that I can’t change now is I stuck with the term C.O.P.P.S.: Community Orienting Policing and Problem Solving. I probably should have come up with our own acronym. It would have made people feel better, but we didn’t.”

One major problem was that the term C.O.P.P.S. quickly became associated with “soft” policing. Some department members believe that the early marketing of the idea was to blame. “Initially, there were some statements from the chief and from a captain that said, ‘Police work’s going to change, and we’re not going to be arresting people any more,” one FPD member recalls. “And we’re going to be trying to fight crime in a different way, and it’s going to be more—a bunch of warm, fuzzy hugs with the community, and all that. And that grated on a lot of people.” Steckler and Lanam both maintain that they always tried to emphasize C.O.P.P.S.’s continuity with the past, but that message apparently did not transmit evenly throughout the department.

One early problem-solving project—and one of the most significant ones still running today—unintentionally contributed to C.O.P.P.S.’s reputation as “social work.” The project focused on domestic violence, trying to address that problem by requiring officers to follow up three times at every address that generated a domestic violence call; in the follow-up, the officers were expected to try to check with victims and offenders to offer services and to ask how things had been going.7 Begun as a pilot project in one of the city’s three zones, the effort produced a dramatic reduction in repeat domestic violence calls and none of the expected complaints from citizens that their privacy was being invaded. Even so, many officers felt that the project took too much of their time and that it bordered on social work, and they began referring to it as the “Adopt-a-Family” program. One FPD member recalls: “The Adopt-a-Family thing . . . took on a real social worker connotation . . . And that just put a label on the C.O.P.P.S. philosophy [as] this social welfare program.”

Mike Eads, who invented and oversaw the pilot program, made some modifications early on in order to meet the complaints his officers were making; for example, he lengthened the time-period officers had to make the first of their three re-visitations to the complaint address. But the real problem came when the department chose to bring the program to the entire the patrol force (a decision it made after closely monitoring the impact it had generated as a pilot program). As Eads remembers it: “When this was initially proposed patrol-wide, there was a great deal of resistance.”

The administration’s strategy for dealing with this resistance was twofold. First, it tried to modify the program to mitigate some of the main concerns officers were raising. Most notably, Lanam proposed excluding the least serious domestic dispute calls from the list of calls that required follow-up. Eads recalls of the idea, “I wasn’t quite sure how that would work, but it was a lot better than having 100 angry officers not wanting to try the program at all. And it turns out that it was probably a better idea,” primarily because it did not overload the patrol force. The second way the administration dealt with officer resistance was simply by staying the course, emphasizing that the program was a pilot, and explaining the possible benefits (namely, that by reducing repeat domestic violence calls, the program would ultimately reduce officers’ workload, even if it increased it in the short run). As Lanam explains, he saw his role in this dispute, as in many others, as “offering support”:

The program still has its detractors, but many in the patrol force seem to have accepted the new requirements, and Eads reports that he is more than satisfied with how the project has gone.

C.O.P.P.S. and the Police Officers’ Association
Other complaints greeted C.O.P.P.S. as well. Many officers complained that they simply did not have time to take on C.O.P.P.S.-related activities. One argues: “I come up with a C.O.P.P.S. project, how am I supposed to work on it? Because I’m also supposed to be on the street, I’m supposed to be taking calls. We’re too busy for me to spend an hour or two hours, three hours, meeting with some of these folks.” Others saw the new philosophy as too much of a break from their previous training. One explains: “For years, it seems like they’ve been teaching you [that] you need to let the pressures of the job go when you get home at night, so you don’t vapor lock over a period of years. And now they want you to take more personal responsibility for it.”

Many of these complaints found their way to Steve Blair, president of the Police Officers’ Association (POA). For example, the workload issue became particularly salient when the administration proposed its new Reporting Area (RA) program, which would assign each officer permanently to an area (not necessarily one he or she patrolled) and give him or her responsibility for attending area meetings and otherwise acting as the FPD’s community liaison. A few officers asked Blair to oppose the RA program; he recalls: “Essentially they were saying, ‘We don’t have time for it.’ They wanted the association to essentially complain, try and get it stopped.” But Blair and others on the association’s board did not find the arguments convincing. “Frankly, there wasn’t that much involved . . . that I thought should be causing any kind of real barrier to getting it done,” he explains. As a result, the association did not formally oppose the project with the administration.

Blair does think that the workload issue has some validity in general. “That can become a valid point,” he explains, focusing particularly on the argument that C.O.P.P.S. activity sometimes puts added burden on the rest of the officers in a zone when they have to pick up the 911 slack. Blair’s conclusion is that not everyone needs to work on problem-solving projects in order to play an important role in C.O.P.P.S.: “If you're going to want to critique or criticize or discipline an officer who is not getting involved by doing his own personal C.O.P.P.S. project, you have to give some credit . . . [if] he is the person staying on the street . . . . I don't necessarily see where he is not quote ‘in the C.O.P.P.S. philosophy.’” But for the most part, Blair—like the great majority of FPD officers—does not object to C.O.P.P.S. reforms, since the department has made the appropriate adjustments (including throwing out the old arrest-based evaluations, and developing new ways to free up officer time for problem-solving). In his eyes, the few complaints that still arise are not particularly strong ones, and in any case they are not constructive criticisms: “Occasionally there doesn’t seem to be any way to placate an individual who has a complaint with a proposed C.O.P.P.S. program. When we present alternatives or solutions, the response is ‘No, that can’t work either.’” In any case, Blair goes on to emphasize that “generally, this is a very small percentage of the group as a whole” who raise such complaints in the first place.

3. Marketing C.O.P.P.S. Outside the FPD

Building Support in City Hall
Given Fremont’s idea of community policing, which put a high value collaboration with community institutions, the department obviously needed to build support not just inside the FPD, but among its outside partners as well. Moreover, the internal changes the Department intended to make required buy-off from city government (particularly since community policing was internally-driven in Fremont—unlike in some cities, Fremont’s city hall did not ask its police to implement the new idea). For example, the need for governmental approval is particularly clear in budgeting, since Fremont’s city manager requires all city agencies to build their budget requests around goals and objectives. As a result, the Department needed to redefine officially what those goals and objectives were, so that the individual expenditures associated with community policing would make sense. As Steckler explains it: “I am trying to tie the expenditures of the budget [and] the discretionary funds that I have back to community policing. [For example], the north end substation, what we are going to be doing there. Because that was a brand new program we started—purchases of certain pieces of equipment, staffing levels, and that kind of stuff.” In this way, the Chief and others in the FPD fully appreciated the need to get city government on board with community policing.

Nevertheless, the FPD apparently began its transition without much council involvement. “It was almost a stealth transition,” Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison recalls.8

Even so, the issue did not turn out to be terribly problematic, since the general idea of community policing was a familiar one by the time the FPD embarked on it: “The literature and the talking about it was all very positive,” Morrison explains. “So there wasn’t any concern about it. You’d seen it in the various government publications. And so the idea, the concept, was nothing new to us. But just the fact that we were going in that direction was kind of a surprise.” Morrison recalls that he “raised the issue a couple of times,” asking the department, “When are you going to tell us what you’re doing?”

In 1994, Steckler made a formal presentation to the city council that did exactly that. The presentation covered the police department’s accomplishments to date, laying out the work the 8 task committees had done, progress on training, initial problem-solving projects, and the various partnerships the FPD had developed (particularly those with other city agencies). Steckler also laid out the department’s future community policing plans, highlighting planned problem-solving activities, community meetings, and work with other Fremont agencies. Although he does not remember the presentation as a response to Morrison’s queries, it served that purpose adequately, as Morrison felt that the direction Steckler described made sense. As Steckler remembers it: “It is like apple pie and motherhood. ‘We are going to involve the community . . . ’ There was no opposition whatsoever.” At the same time, Steckler did need to avoid one obvious pitfall, namely, offending ex-Chief Robert Wasserman, who had successfully run for council upon retiring from the FPD. “I had to walk a fine line here because my predecessor was on the Council,” Steckler remembers. “He was chief for 17 years. And so you know, I am saying that the department had already set the ground work for it, and this was just a natural evolution and progression. . . . I had to walk a fine line. Although I get along great with [Wasserman].”

Reinventing Government
One reason the council and the rest of city hall were so accepting of community policing was that it fit nicely into a larger reinvention of city government that Fremont had launched shortly after C.O.P.P.S. got underway. In large part, that citywide reform was driven by the leadership of city manager Jan Perkins, who Fremont appointed to the position in 1994 (she had already served one year as interim city manager, and another as assistant city manager). With reinvention, Perkins tried to bring a new style of government to Fremont, one that focused on “breaking down the boundaries” between city departments in order to serve customer needs more effectively. As she explains:

In Perkins’s eyes, the “focus on the community” provides an alternative way to organize government work: For her, the traditional concentration on functional areas (police, transportation, recreation, etc.) gives way to a concentration on community problems, working in concert with members of the community. For example, the city manager’s office and the agencies themselves have repeatedly formed cross-departmental teams to deal with emerging community problems. One example is the Centerville Action Team described below, which assembled a multiagency group to deal with issues that had arisen in one area of the city. Other examples include an interagency task force convened to work on youth issues and a recession-era team Perkins assembled to develop strategies for dealing with a shrinking budget.

Perkins’s “one organization” philosophy also applies outside the confines of these ad hoc committees, as she also expects agencies to collaborate on their day-to-day business. (City council has taken a similar approach, encouraging interagency collaborations through projects like their annual Elected Officials’ Summit for all elected officeholders in a three-city area.) The concept, as Perkins explains it, is that city employees—regardless of the department they are assigned to—are first and foremost “city” employees with community-wide focus. An example of this type of thinking in practice comes from Economic Development Director Ann Draper, who maintains that “everyone [in city government] indirectly works for Economic Development. [So] I have seven hundred people on my team. And that is really a very important distinction, because many Economic Development people [feel] that they only have to participate with people who directly report to them.”

In any case, Perkins has arranged for extensive training on reinvention, bringing in luminaries like Ted Gaebler and Gary Heil to discuss the principles behind it, sending agency staff to conferences, and sending them to other cities to see how the ideas work in practice. All of this is reinforced in her own regular discussions with managers.

This philosophy of interagency collaboration obviously fit well with C.O.P.P.S., which sought to open up the FPD to more collaboration with outside agencies, the community, and the private sector. As Perkins remembers it, the two initiatives “meshed beautifully.” Steckler maintains: “She is very supportive of it [community policing]. It fits very nicely in what she is trying to do in streamlining City government, customer focus, and customer satisfaction.” Thus it was not difficult to get Perkins’s support for C.O.P.P.S.; and its principles did not even need much explanation, since they seemed to be a special case of the broader ideas associated with reinvention.

Beyond the conceptual affinity of C.O.P.P.S. and reinvention, Perkins simply had a better familiarity with community policing than many city managers, largely because of her past experience. In particular, she was Assistant City Manager for Santa Ana, which under Chief Raymond Davis had become one of the first California cities to implement community policing. As Steckler explains: “My City Manager has a total grasp on community policing. She was the assistant City Manager in Santa Ana and had a good understanding of public safety. . . And so I didn’t have to educate [her] on community policing.”

Whatever the reasons, Perkins quickly became a staunch ally for the FPD as it entered new territory. In particular, she was able to put the authority of her position behind police initiatives that called for collaboration from other Fremont Departments. Lieutenant Jan Gove remembers one example from the Irvington district of Fremont where interagency collaboration was key:

Gove and the rest of her team sought cooperation from other city agencies, and while those agencies did not exactly resist participating, they did not initially start out wholeheartedly. “Not so much because they didn’t want to do the work, but because it definitely does increase their work load,” Gove remembers. Indeed, given that the project was something of a break from the past, it is not surprising that city departments needed a signal from above to authorize their commitment of time and resources. It is in this connection, Gove remembers, that Perkins’s support was crucial:

Thus with the city manager on board with C.O.P.P.S., many other pieces fell in place.

Moreover, the broader effort of reinvention sometimes drew police into interagency efforts that they might not have thought up alone. For example, Fremont’s Department of Human Services has undertaken several initiatives that have involved the FPD, and Maintenance and Recreation has invited police to participate in a number of activities for youth. As another example, Economic Development director Ann Draper has tried to make officers more cognizant of the way they respond to calls from businesses:

Draper has followed up on this message by relaying anything businesses tell her about police responses to the department:

Throughout, Draper tries to make clear “the link between their professional behavior” and the decisions firms make about investing in Fremont. In any case, because of her perspective on the role police play in Economic Development—which itself seems tied to the interagency perspective reinvention champions—, police management gets an additional source of feedback on officer behavior, and the department gets an additional push to maintain its strong community relations.

Other Efforts with City Government
In sum, the happy coincidence of reinvention helped the FPD’s own transformation along by priming other city agencies to be good partners. But the FPD did not rest on its good fortune; it took on a number of additional efforts intended to bring other city agencies on board with C.O.P.P.S. For example, the FPD pursued several formal interdepartmental initiatives to improve coordination, like arranging for a Truant Officer from the Schools Department and a counselor from the Department of Human Services to work on site at the Police Department.9 The FPD has also used cost-sharing to solidify interagency partnerships, notably through grants that help pay for staff in partner agencies—including a code enforcement officer and four domestic violence outreach workers, who work for a nonprofit domestic violence agency called Shelter Against Violent Environments (SAVE). Finally, the FPD has tried to reorganize itself in order to be more user-friendly: Creating positions like a Business Liaison who can work with area businesses as well as the Department of Economic Development; beginning a School Resource Officer (SRO) program that acts as liaison to area schools; and charging its Street Crimes Unit with taking special responsibility for interagency liaison.
But the most direct FPD efforts to build support in outside agencies have involved training. Most simply, the FPD invited employees of other city agencies (among others) to most of its own internal training sessions, in order to give them a sense of what the police were trying to do (an idea Lanam says he got from another agency during the site visits).10 Administrative Analyst Phil Hawthorne explains that the FPD “made it a part of our training to have those people involved . . . so they would learn about [C.O.P.P.S.] and sort of make the same commitment to the thought processes that we’re looking for.” And indeed, Rana Sampson, who ran a number of training sessions for the Department, recalls: “Fremont was so open . . Anybody who wanted to attend could come to their training.” Sampson’s sessions, at least, were in fact attended by a number of outsiders, including citizens, councilmembers, other agency employees, and the City Manager.
Pleased with this aspect of its internal training sessions, the FPD invited Sampson back on two occasions specifically to speak to agency heads and some of their staff. The first appearance, which she made jointly with Chris Braiden from the Edmonton Police Department, was simply intended to explain C.O.P.P.S. to the rest of city government. As Sampson describes it, the FPD wanted to help those agencies understand “what the police department was doing and why they were doing it.” Moreover, the training would hopefully “build some expectations in the system about how the [FPD] was changing, and that that would mean that the interaction with the city would be changing as well.”

But even after these sessions, the FPD felt there was more work to be done: According to Lanam, “there was still some confusion on what we were doing and what it meant to different departments.” In order to address this confusion, Fremont invited Sampson back yet again, but this time for a more novel approach to interdepartmental training—one that focused on community problem-solving in general, not just problem-solving by the police. In other words, Sampson would train the other departments in how to do their own problem-solving. As Lanam explains:

Perkins immediately lent her support to the idea, and she personally called Sampson to see if she would agree to the idea.

Sampson herself was initially resistant, because although she had spoken to other agencies about police problem-solving, she had never tried to apply the concepts directly to the agencies’ own work. “That I had not done,” she remembers.

But in the end, Sampson put her misgivings aside and agreed to take on the task, largely because she could tell that Perkins (who she had met years earlier at a PERF conference), was truly committed to the idea: “I just got the sense that she was really serious and committed to finding ways for city government to be more effective,” Sampson remembers.

By all accounts, most of these sessions went well. Sampson recalls: “It was fascinating. I tried to think about it a lot beforehand and talk to a bunch of different people in the departments. . . I learned as much from it as probably the people in the class.” The basic intuition Sampson tried to convey was what the notion of problem-solving entailed. As she explains:

Participating agencies apparently liked the experimental training sessions. For example, DES’s Roger Shanks describes at least one idea that emerged out of the sessions that he intends to carry forward (specifically, an intervention centered on the problem of developers who fail to follow their approved plans).

In any case, Sampson’s training sessions fed directly into the FPD’s agenda, as well as reinvention more generally, because they presumed an ideal of community problem-solving that transcended departmental boundaries. Sampson explains: “I told them that as you get more community oriented in your own area, I think the lines start to blur between the different departments and the problems they are working on. Police may focus on a landlord who caters to renting to criminals. The Fire and Buildings Departments focus on the same landlord but for other reasons. Often times it’s more effective to work together rather than providing each service piecemeal.”

Building Support and Capacity in the Community

Finding the Community
Reinvention and a supportive city manager simplified the FPD’s job of building ties to other agencies, but a different, and in many ways more difficult task faced the department outside of city hall. The need for dialogue with the community was clear: If the department intended to set priorities based on the values of the community, it needed some way of finding out what these values were. But as described above, the city of Fremont simply does not display the same degree of community organization—or at least the same type—as many other cities that have moved towards community policing. Most simply, Fremont’s relatively wealthy, low-crime environment does not spark much self-initiated neighborhood activity around public safety issues (though that does happen at times, and under the guidance of CSO Mike Nottoli, Fremont’s Neighborhood Watch program has become expert at channeling these bursts of interest). In the words of Neighborhood Resources Manager Claudia Albano, who Perkins hired as part of her neighborhood initiative, “Fremont is a middle-class community with some wealthy areas. There isn’t the incentive to get involved in an Alinsky-style organization, for example [referring to radical community organizer Saul Alinsky]. The problems are just not that dire—there aren’t any drug houses or insurmountable crime problems like there are in more urbanized areas. . . There are fewer neighborhood groups where people are frustrated enough to organize at that level.”

Moreover, physical geography and design present a different sort of problem. Fremont is a sprawling city of over 90 square miles, crisscrossed by the trademark wide streets of California’s automobile culture. As a result, “neighborhood” in Fremont feels radically atomized, often down to the level of the housing development. For example, as recently as 1956, Fremont was actually five distinct towns, and one might think that those boundaries would still hold some meaning for residents. But Albano explains that in many cases they do not:

Indeed, early on in C.O.P.P.S. and in reinvention, the department and the city as a whole tried to organize large “town meetings” around these areas, but attendance was not particularly strong. Albano argues that the meetings were called at the wrong level of aggregation: “A lot of people don’t identify with Centerville,” she maintains, referring one of the old towns where the city called a meeting. “They live in Cabrillo, for example. They’re technically sort of in Centerville, but they don’t necessarily identify with Centerville. So where’s the incentive to attend the meeting?”

In Lanam’s eyes, the lesson to be learned from those meetings was that the FPD needed to look more closely at the “communities” it was trying to approach.

Lanam believes that the original town hall meetings were “a great effort,” but that the department “need[s] to improve upon [them] and go back into the focus groups and the stake-holders for different issues and say, ‘We want your representation.’ . . . That’s the only way you actually get into finding out what the community wants.” Thus in his eyes, listening for the voice of “the community” means properly identifying that community’s contours.

Economies of Scale
Moreover, because those contours were so complex and disaggregated, and because the communities they defined were so little focused on explicit public safety concerns, it also meant being resourceful in finding opportunities for contact. Partners in government like Albano are crucial in doing so, as Lanam explains in this recent example:

Along the same lines, the FPD has repeatedly turned to the Fire Department’s CERT groups and the school district’s PTAs to gauge community sentiment and solicit volunteers; and to the Economic Development department’s Retail Network, which seeks to organize commercial establishments in the city. Moreover, the department has also returned these favors from its partners in city government, as when Albano recently used an appearance by the department’s new $200,000 mobile substation as an opportunity to undertake her own organizing; and as when the Department of Human Services has used the FPD’s business contacts to get business participation in one of its youth programs. In these ways, the city’s interdepartmental working style has allowed agencies to pool their resources in order to reach out to Fremont’s somewhat fragmented community.

The Reporting Area Project
If these economies of scale are one means of keeping a handle on Fremont’s many communities, the FPD hopes that its new Reporting Area (RA) program will provide another. In essence, the RA program assigns every officer in the FPD to one of 94 small, four- to five-block areas of the city, making them experts on their respective neighborhoods. According to Lanam, RA officers are told “You have this large response area for emergency calls for service. But you are responsible to maintain or keep track of the smaller five or six block neighborhood. So some time during your shift and during your week you are going to go down and keep track of that neighborhood and resolve the issues down there.” In practice, that means directing the RA officers to identify and meet with relevant neighborhood groups and businesses, to learn about the area’s concerns, and to coordinate a departmental response. The brand-new program currently operates only on a pilot basis in one of the city’s three geographic zones. But when it becomes permanent, the FPD intends to make each officer’s RA assignment last for at least 3-5 years.11

Though it is too soon to tell whether the program will work or not, Lanam hopes that it will help the FPD keep track of community concerns. On the one hand, when the FPD or anyone else in city government proactively decides to undertake a neighborhood initiative, the RA officer should be able to identify the relevant stakeholders. As Lanam puts it, “it identifies your different focus groups. . . We can reach out to Centerville, [because] their structure’s in place.” On the other hand, the RA’s also serve as more reactive antennae that alert the FPD to emerging crises. Lanam explains:

In this capacity, the RA program serves as an “early warning system” that will hopefully help the FPD head off emerging problems—something it has had difficulty doing in the past, given Fremont’s indistinct state of organization.

Working with the Public
In all these ways, the FPD has tried to strengthen its relationships with Fremont’s citizens at the level of individual communities. But the department has also undertaken some broader efforts to garner support from the public at large. Steckler has tried to get the message out about C.O.P.P.S. by opening a citizen’s police academy that educates its students about how the FPD operates. Any Fremont resident can attend the academy, but Steckler made a special effort to encourage attendance by community leaders (such as Councilmembers JoNelle Zager and Bill Pease). On another level, the department has tried to develop support by soliciting community input on important policy changes. Steckler has created an informal “advisory board” made up of Fremont citizens for this purpose, drawing on the contacts he has developed in his active private life to do so (he sits on two different fundraising boards in Fremont, and has been president of the local Rotary Club and Salvation Army). For example, the FPD Chief recently convened this group when he was considering revising the department’s pursuit policy. Finally, the department has tried to make itself more accessible to the public by opening a storefront substation in the isolated North End of town, with another similar station currently in the works. In addition to providing a place for officers to write reports and interact with the public, the substation serves as a miniature service station for all of city government; the volunteers who staff it are trained to answer questions about all city agencies, make referrals to them, and to help residents fill out some government forms. Applying the same principle of “one-stop shopping” to the business world, the FPD has created a Business liaison position, and also designated one of its high-tech crimes detectives as liaison to that category of businesses.

But the most visible way in which the FPD has reached out to the general public is through its expanded volunteer program, which is coordinated by CSO Donna Gott. FPD management had decided to pursue a volunteer program during their initial research on C.O.P.P.S., and they charged Gott with starting a program in Fremont. As she remembers the logic: “[They] found that in order to bridge the gap between the police department and the community, what better way to do it than get the citizens involved in what we do to help make our job easier? Break down those barriers by getting them involved.” So Lanam sent Gott on site visits to Santa Ana and San Diego in order to learn about those departments’ programs first hand, and through those programs she got ideas about where volunteers could be used, as well as how to recruit them.

The FPD ultimately gave Gott the goal of having 100 volunteers working for the department, up from the 8 who did so on the eve of C.O.P.P.S. She remembers the charge as a daunting one: “I didn’t think it was possible,” she remembers. “I grew up in Fremont, and knowing the kind of community it is, 100 seemed like such an enormous number . . . It is just a bedroom community. . . . A lot of parents work and there are a lot of younger families. And I just didn’t know how I was going to go about recruiting.” Gott started out by calling a meeting with the 8 volunteers who already worked for the FPD, soliciting ideas from them on what volunteers could do and how to recruit them.

In the event, finding volunteers was relatively easy. Gott prepared a pamphlet describing volunteer opportunities that the department could distribute at any public event it held—from the newly-started citizen’s academy, to appearances at schools and the “town hall” meetings the city was running, to Nottoli’s Neighborhood Watch presentations.12 After that, virtually all of the FPD’s volunteers have come to her. The only exception to that rule was in finding volunteers to work in the North Substation, which the department wanted to staff from nearby residents; Gott was able to do so with the help of area Neighborhood Watch leaders.
The other major tasks Gott faced were developing positions that the recruits could fill, and making satisfactory matches between jobs and recruits. With respect to the latter, the main strategy was effective background checks, particularly for jobs involving access to confidential information, and thorough discussion with each volunteer about their interests and skills. The task of creating positions, on the other hand, was potentially the most sensitive one Gott faced, since paid employees and their unions often view volunteers as a threat. Gott herself was sympathetic to that concern, since she had personally raised it a few years back, when the department had floated the idea of a volunteer program as a way to cope with budget cuts. “I didn’t want volunteers to come in because I was next in line to get laid off,” she explains.

With that experience in mind, Gott tried to head off the problem by working closely with the Police Officer’s Association (POA) and the two Teamster unions that represented FPD civilians. She remembers, “What I did was when this program was coming along . . . I sat down with them and I said, ‘This is what I am doing.’ And they all brought up issues.” Her main strategy for dealing with union concerns was to ensure them a voice in every volunteer position she created: When someone proposes a new volunteer position to her, she runs the job description by each union representative for comments. If there are any concerns, she calls a meeting to discuss them—although she has rarely found that necessary. One example where the unions did raise concerns touched on a job in the Chief’s office in which a volunteer would help Steckler’s secretary file documents. As Gott remembers the objections:

POA president Steve Blair explains that his association does not have any fundamental objection to volunteers as job-thieves: “If a volunteer is actually replacing a position, yeah, I think the complaint is justified and it needs to be addressed. [But] if the volunteer is merely helping an over-burdened position then God bless them.” For Gott, success lies in carefully demarcating the volunteers’ role: “That helps out with the volunteers knowing what their boundaries are,” she explains. “Because the idea of the volunteer program is not to replace any paid staff. It is to augment what we have to offer. And because of the volunteers, we are able to accomplish a lot more and are able to offer a lot more services to the community.”

4. Restructuring the FPD
It should be clear by this point that more than in most cities, organizational change in Fremont came close to a sequenced process: The department spent considerable start-up time refining its vision before trying to sell that vision to its various constituencies. Moreover, only after that process did it turn towards concrete organizational change. To be sure, some FPD systems were restructured relatively early on, but the bulk of implementation did not begin until 1996, and central elements (like the RA program) are still emerging today.

It is not possible to review every organizational change the FPD has implemented during its transition to C.O.P.P.S. Even though the effort is still in its infancy, the department has already undertaken myriad tasks, from altering the way it hires new recruits, to reinstating and refocusing its crime analysis unit, to expanding and redefining its community relations unit. But two of the most important changes the FPD has made can serve to represent its diverse experiences with retooling the organization: The change it made to employee shifts, and the transformation of the dispatch center. The former change illustrates how a seemingly tangential administrative change fundamentally influenced the ability of the patrol force to solve community problems; and it also illustrates the unintended effects many initiatives had, as well as the way the FPD managed those effects. The transformation of the dispatch center illustrates how Fremont has tried to push C.O.P.P.S. in relatively new directions, and the challenges it has faced in doing so.

Community Problem Solving and the Four-Day Weekend
Many, and perhaps most, of the organizational changes associated with C.O.P.P.S. were designed primarily to facilitate problem-solving by patrol officers, whether by freeing up officer time, cultivating the necessary support systems, or training officers in the concrete skills they needed. FPD task forces spent considerable time doing things like redefining supervisory roles, modifying FPD hiring policies, and searching for ways to reduce the workload in a department with only 1.02 sworn officers per 1,000 residents. But in the department’s eyes, one of the most important administrative changes was one that might at first glance seem tangential: Redesigning the shifts for which officers and other FPD employees reported to work.

The shift change originated from a frustration with the existing scheme for organizing the patrol force. One manager explains of the old system: “We all rotated different days. I might work three days with this sergeant, five days with this person, [and then] two days with this person. And it is really, really hard to keep continuity because people aren’t there every day for you talk to them and find out what is going on.” With this sort of complaint in mind, Steckler directed the scheduling committee and the POA to come up with an alternative to the current system. In particular, he and Captain Ron Hunt, then in charge of patrol, stressed the need for a system that allowed teams of officers to work for the same supervisor at all times.

The POA and the scheduling committee bandied a number of proposals about, but none of them seemed to work. For example, the department initially considered the 4-10 scheduling that many police departments use, in which teams of officers worked four days on and three days off, with significant overlap on busier days. But the POA didn’t like the proposal very well, as most officers wanted to keep the eight-day work cycle that allowed them rotating days off (as opposed to a seven-day schedule that fixed their “weekends”). Moreover, the overlap on “busy days” was not as necessary as some had assumed: Upon analyzing call-for-service patters, the department discovered that its workload really did not change very much from day to day; the difference in call volume between a Friday or Saturday night and the same period on a Sunday or Monday was no more than 10%.

The proposal that was finally adopted did not come out of the scheduling committee at all but from a sergeant named Mike Eads (the same sergeant who had spearheaded the domestic violence initiative). Eads had privately puzzled over the shift problem, trying varying combinations of hours and days off until the total number of hours worked came out right: “I knew that we had to have about 2,080 hours a year,” he remembers. “[And] I knew that the committee was working within the parameters that they wanted a team. It was trying to decide how to do that and still get seven days a week coverage . . . All I did was sit down and try to work [it out].”

Eads finally hit on the 4-11 plan, which asked officers to work four eleven-hour days and gave them four days off in return. The plan was initially rough—“it really was just an idea that was initially written down on a napkin of all things,” he recalls—, but it seemed to satisfy the various constraints. It would essentially create two groups of officers (later named the “A team” and the “B team”) that worked alternate four-day stints, creating the team environment Steckler and Hunt had wanted; and it did so without robbing the officers of their rotating days off.. The hours were a bit complicated, as the plan fell somewhat short of the amount required for full-time work. But the department was able to make up the difference by adding five “training days” attended by the entire force over the course of the year. Another problem was that the nonstandard scheduling ran afoul of the state’s Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) by scheduling too many hours during its heaviest 28-day period. But the FPD found it could address this concern by using a less well-known 24-day work cycle that the FLSA allowed for police officers, and which fit more naturally into the 4-11 plan’s 8-day “weeks.”13

In any case, Eads crunched the relevant numbers over a one-month period and wrote up his conclusions in a memo to the Chief. Steckler was immediately enthusiastic, and at that point the young sergeant became formally involved in the scheduling committee to work out some finishing details and to help sell the proposal to the rest of the department. In the end, management welcomed the proposal immediately, and although the patrol officers were a somewhat harder sell, their union ultimately approved the proposal on a pilot basis, as described above. By 1996, the FPD permanently adopted the system with almost unanimous support from the POA.

Impacts of the 4-11 Plan
Without apparent exception, FPD members consider the new system a success with regards to its central goal of creating viable teams. One explains

Eads himself also considers the program a success: “A lot of people really liked the team. I liked the team part of it—having the same group of employees work for me for an entire year. It’s really nice, I get to know kind of what they are thinking. I kind of get to know where they are coming from when they make a decision or a choice. They get to know me, they know what my expectations are. They know how I would like to see them do their jobs.”

Though this was the main goal of the 4-11 plan, the new shift system also generated an important side-benefit for problem-solving by creating significant overlap every day among the three 11-hour shifts needed for around-the-clock service. The department scheduled this overlap period to coincide with the hours of heaviest call volume, but even so, officers during this period seemed to feel that they had considerable free time.

That feeling was important, because a major concern department members had expressed during the planning phase of C.O.P.P.S. was that Fremont simply did not have enough officers to do community policing. (Many of the sites the FPD had visited concurred with that judgment, as Fremont had a lower officer per 1,000 residents ratio than any of them; and though the city had a low crime rate, its sprawling geography seemed to counterbalance that advantage.) The department had found time for problem-solving in the past, but some argued that it was becoming increasingly difficult to do so: “The difference now from 20 years ago,” one officer maintains, “is it was real easy to get around town 20 years ago. Now it can take 15 or 20 minutes to get through traffic just to get to a call.”

But the overlap the 4-11 system generated between swing shift and day shift created a period of flush staffing when the usual pressures of call volume subsided. As POA President Blair explains: “The other thing that helps this C.O.P.P.S. thing work with us here, in fact probably about the only thing that helped it work, is this 4-11 plan that we’re on. Because with the 4-11 you wind up with some pretty heavy overlaps with the two shifts. So if someone is trying to work on a C.O.P.P.S. project, if he does it during the overlap of the two shifts you still have a fair number of people there to cover the shortage.” Throughout the FPD, officers repeat the same sentiment, explaining that the time they have available for working on C.O.P.P.S. projects comes during the overlaps between shifts.14
Finally, the 4-11 plan’s popular hours had the unexpected but mostly welcome consequence of making patrol one of the most attractive jobs in the FPD. Since the 4-11 plan has come into existence, other jobs with more conventional hours have become harder and harder to fill—even where those jobs had traditionally been more prestigious. For example, Eads explains:

As Steckler puts it: “Ever since I have been a police officer, management said, ‘Patrol is the backbone of the police department, blah, blah, blah.’ But then all the incentives were given to get out of patrol. You know, a detective would make five percent more, you want to ride motorcycle you get five percent more. They pay you extra to get out of patrol. [Now,] we have people say, ‘I don’t want to leave patrol. I don’t want to give up the 4-11.’ So we really made [it] an attractive assignment.”

Unintended Consequences
But in some ways, patrol’s newfound desirability became too much of a good thing. Important administrative assignments have become increasingly difficult to fill, and a recent training sergeant position (once a popular job) found only 2 applicants from the 18 sergeants available to apply for the 9-to-5 position. One particularly daunting prospect has been filling the department’s School Resource Officer (SRO) positions: The first round of SROs has not yet completed their assignments, but management has heard rumblings that the job is not considered attractive. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that the position has turned out to be a demanding job; but part of it is the traditional hours SROs currently work. In response, the department has begun considering a proposal to put the school officers on a new plan which would make them work five 10-hour days during the school year, but give them vacations to match the students’ (seven weeks at summertime, two in the winter, and one each for Thanksgiving and Spring). In any case, the point is that the 4-11 plan has become a major consideration for FPD employees as they bid for jobs, and while the consequences are mostly welcome, they also create some new challenges. As Steckler puts it: “We kind of created a little bit of a monster here.”

A more serious unintended consequence of the 4-11 plan has been the coordination problems it creates between the two teams of officers. The new system did in fact create the coherent teams Steckler and Hunt had wanted. But it did so almost too cleanly, and now each team speaks of the other as “the other side” (or even “the dark side”). The clean break becomes a problem because it inhibits coordination and information flow, and it has the potential to lead to a fragmented response to community problems. For example, a simple directed patrol operation demands involvement from both teams—otherwise the department will send mixed messages by clamping down with full enforcement for four days and then completely letting up when the next team comes on.

Three formal strategies have emerged to address this problem. One is to use the training days—attended by the entire department—as opportunities for the two shifts to trade ideas. Second, on more short-term issues, the department has used crime analysis bulletins as a forum for communicating what each team is doing to the other. In the past, officers were required to fill out their own crime information bulletins if they wanted to alert other shifts to their activities. But partly to improve communication between teams, the FPD has increasingly put the onus on crime analysis to keep everyone informed of crime patterns and the response different teams are taking to them, and many officers report that these bulletins have improved information flow considerably. Third, the department has recently created a new “zone captain” position whose responsibilities include coordination of problem-solving across shifts. In the new scheme, each of the FPD’s captains maintains his current full-time assignment as head of patrol, investigations, or the Community Policing Support Division; but in addition, he takes responsibility for coordinating problem-solving in one of the city’s three zones. As Captain Ron Hunt, who spearheaded the idea, explains: “As far as P.O.P. projects, I [as zone commander] am there to facilitate as a conduit between what the officer needs and the community. Because we [i.e., captains] work a traditional 8-5 schedule . . . as opposed to an officer on 4, off 4. . . . The captains are just about the only three people that overlap teams in this whole organization, other than the chief.”

Informally, one of the most important ways of coordinating teams has proven to be the use of overtime. Some officers pick up extra days of work fairly often in the FPD, whether to work on a specific C.O.P.P.S. project or simply to fill in for an absent officer on another team. These opportunities are among the few times when officers from different teams find themselves working together, allowing them to have formal meetings on C.O.P.P.S. projects in progress or simply take breaks together and talk about what they are working on. FPD managers can also use overtime purposefully in order to allow an officer from one team to work with another on a specific project (like surveillance of a neighborhood hot spot).

In any case, though the 4-11 plan has created some new challenges, department members have almost overwhelmingly welcomed it; indeed, many (like Blair) feel strongly that C.O.P.P.S. could not have worked in Fremont without it. Eads published an article about the program in a California law enforcement journal,15 and the department has begun fielding questions about the system from other departments around the state. But so far, none of them has followed Fremont’s lead.

Problem-Solving in Dispatch
Though many of its reform efforts focused on patrol, from the start Fremont was committed to bringing the entire department into the C.O.P.P.S. philosophy. One of the more innovative applications of this commitment occurred in dispatch.

The planning team had become aware of the importance of dispatch during the site visits to what were supposedly the nation’s leading community policing departments. In most of these departments, dispatch simply had not been brought along in the organizational change. Indeed, many other police departments Fremont later tried to learn from suffered the same problems; one dispatch supervisor remembers of a “model” community policing agency, “we realized that they were not a resource for us at all and that they had not even included their dispatch center, that they had challenges that we had solved years before this.” Lanam felt that it was crucial to address this issue in the FPD, explaining: “These people are the first line of contact with the department, and you really need to make sure that there is a welcoming first line.”

The department tried to include dispatch in C.O.P.P.S. in a number of ways. First and foremost, it simply tried to extend the activities associated with transition to dispatchers as well: Dispatchers were included in most departmental training, they participated in the various task committees (including one dedicated specifically to their unit), and one of their supervisors came along on some of the more local site visits. Second, the FPD made an important symbolic gesture by fighting to get civilian positions such as dispatch included in the 4-11 plan. Doing so turned out to be quite difficult, since FLSA standards for civilians were different from those for sworn officers—there was no way around building several hours of overtime into the civilians’ work week. Consequently, the department had to re-negotiate the civilians’ contracts, the upshot being that they accepted a paycut in hourly wages that would keep their total pay (after calculating the new “overtime”) essentially constant. In any case, dispatchers appreciated the effort, as dispatch Sergeant Jim Banta explains: “That in itself was a bit of a plum when the staff and the city decided ‘OK, we will band [together] and we will allow you guys to do this. It kind of sends a signal . . . that, ‘Yes, you are part of the team, and we want you on board.’”

Even so, the abstract commitment to bringing dispatch “on board” did not give the unit much direction on what it should be doing, which may explain why some dispatchers felt that C.O.P.P.S. was passing them by. “We did not know where [to go] and we had no examples to follow,” one supervisor explains. “What does a C.O.P.P.S. dispatch center mean? What does being involved in a C.O.P.P.S. organization mean for dispatch?” In the unit’s eyes, the administration wasn’t answering those questions: “In the beginning I think that they were looking at just patrol [and] they were more focused on selling it to patrol,” the supervisor explains. Consequently, the dispatch supervisors felt that they would have to do the work themselves. One explains: “We, the four supervisors, knew that we were going to be accountable for where we were going to be with this, and . . . we decided that we were not going to wait for the department to tell us how we were going to fit into the C.O.P.P.S. world. . . Let’s see what we can do, and then somebody is eventually going to say ‘No, you can not do that.’”

At the time, dispatch was more disconnected from the department than usual, as its lone sergeant position—the only sworn position in the unit and its formal link to the chain-of-command—was vacant. (The unit was formally overseen by a Lieutenant as well, but that position also involved overseeing many other units like records and animal control.) In any case, dispatch’s four civilian supervisors took it upon themselves to get together and discuss what C.O.P.P.S. might mean to their unit. Although they did not come up with anything concrete, they did reaffirm their belief that dispatch needed to be involved in C.O.P.P.S., and they resolved to run a short training session for their employees. The training sessions themselves had a fairly broad focus, reviewing the overall philosophy of C.O.P.P.S., discussing the way it was being implemented throughout the department, and offering a view of what it might mean for dispatch—a view that focused on the idea of “service delivery.” But other than this, the unit’s managers left the details fairly open; supervisor Ruth Angel maintains: “We four supervisors did not prescribe anything. We just said, ‘We just need to start doing stuff, we need to look at some of our challenges, . . . and what kind of things we were going to implement that makes us a C.O.P.P.S. dispatch center.’”

In the event, the dispatchers themselves were able to find applications for the problem-solving philosophy that they had been hearing so much about. For example, one dispatcher recognized that officers were spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get into Fremont’s many gated communities for calls. In response, he sought approval from his supervisor to contact every gated development in the city, asking the management to add a standardized gate code that police could use to gain access to any development in the city. Virtually every gate operator agreed, and the system was put in place immediately. Angel maintains that though the problem was “basically a patrol problem, . . . [the dispatchers] are in a position where they can see what impact it has on patrol time, because we have people tied up there that can not get in.”

Such problem-solving work in dispatch follows essentially the same procedures it does in patrol: Whoever identifies the problem fills out a SARA form, and the project is approved, monitored, and facilitated by a supervisor. In some cases, “solutions” involve a change in departmental policy, so they must go through the chain-of-command. For example, one dispatcher identified repeat calls for loud music as a drain on police resources and proposed that instead of sending a car to this type of call, the dispatchers could first try simply to call the offending address and tell them to turn the music down (which they usually did). In cases like this, the dispatcher writes a proposal for the command staff to review.

The Phone Reporting System
But around the same time that dispatchers were learning C.O.P.P.S. by doing it, another departmental effort was making their work more stressful, namely, the FPD’s new phone reporting system. That story illustrates the difficulty of balancing the needs of the many units Fremont tried to involve in C.O.P.P.S.

The workload task committee arrived at the phone reporting system as a way to free up time for patrol officers to work on problem-solving projects. Basically, the department would create a list of calls for which a car would no longer be sent to the scene; instead, the caller would be transferred to a phone reporting officer who would take the complaint over the phone. For example, the department felt that this was the best way to handle automobile thefts because having an officer at the scene would not accomplish anything: The evidence had already been stolen. All police could do was get the caller’s number and put the car’s license plate into FPD computers. In any case, the department brought the proposal to city council (since it involved a change in service level) and got it approved.

The department recognized that residents might take some time getting used to the change, but it never predicted the degree of backlash that emerged. As Steckler explains: “People in Fremont . . . were acclimated when they picked up the phone and called the department that somebody in a blue uniform was going to be there.” So when they were told that no car would be responding to their call, many called the Chief directly, complaining: “I pay taxes, and when I call I want a police officer out here.” Steckler recalls that he got support from City Council on the issue (he had sent some of the members through a recent citizen’s academy that explained the need for phone reporting),16 but the complaints still came in.

The brunt of residents’ anger often fell on dispatchers, who were the ones who had to break the news that no officer would be taking their call. “We were dealing with folks that were angry and frustrated with this current system,” one explains. “We were in very close quarters in there. It was very negative, [and] we had to be very nice and very courteous to folks that were not very nice or courteous to us. It was very frustrating.” Moreover, the dispatchers felt pressured for time, as their explanations and justifications of the program took up more and more of it: “We were spending probably easily three to four times the amount of time on calls we had as part of that. So we got pretty buried by it.” The resulting increase in hold time made callers even angrier, as they were waiting longer to hear that they would not be getting a car at all.

Finally, dispatchers sometimes felt undermined by higher levels on the issue. Callers regularly appealed the decision not to send a car, asking first for the dispatchers’ supervisors, and then for their supervisors, and sometimes asking to speak directly to the Chief. And as the dispatchers remember it, those higher levels would more often than not end up caving into pressure and sending a car. That, more than anything, frustrated the dispatchers:

Lanam maintains that the problem resulted from a misunderstanding, as the department never intended to refuse sending a car absolutely. Instead, callers were to be given three options: An immediate phone report; waiting for an officer to come in person, but with the understanding that it might take an hour or two for the officer to arrive; or making a rough appointment at some later time when (for example) an officer would stop by the caller’s workplace. But when the department undertook a survey of past callers as part of the evaluation of its phone reporting system, it found out that callers were not hearing those three options. It is impossible to tell, and not particularly important to know, where the fault lay. In any case, the misunderstanding exacerbated an already tense situation: Higher-ups in the FPD saw sending a car to recalcitrant callers as a legitimate option, but dispatchers perceived it as waffling.

Nevertheless, the department weathered the crisis: The administration clarified the options dispatchers should lay out for the types of call in question, and it apparently stopped reversing the dispatchers’ decisions. Most important, with time the citizens of Fremont apparently became used to the new system. One dispatch supervisor maintains, “The community knows or is more familiar with the program now, so there is no expectation to get an officer on an autoburg [i.e., vehicle theft].” In any case, the list of calls taken by phone report has actually grown since the program’s inception, and community complaints, while hardly absent, do not seem to be as severe as they were at the beginning.

5. The Title I COPS Grants in Fremont
Throughout this story, the Title I COPS grants did not play a large role in Fremont’s transition to C.O.P.P.S. for a simple reason: The funding simply was not attractive to the city. An expensive city to live in, Fremont pays a starting salary of close to $50,000 per year plus benefits for sworn officers; but the Title I hiring grants pay a total of only $75,000 over three years to fund an officer. Departments are able to front-load the money, taking the entire grant at the outset, so in theory Fremont could use COPS hiring money to subsidize a year’s worth of police work. But that simply reduces the grants’ three-year phase-out to one. Indeed, Steckler explains that in his mental calculations, he has only gone after hiring grants when he felt that increasing revenues meant that the city could pick up the entire costs after a single year of grant funding. Consequently, the city’s de facto higher matching requirement (or shorter phase-out) has discouraged it from applying for much COPS funding.

Nevertheless, Fremont did seek a few small hiring grants, as well as one domestic violence grant, to aid its transition to community policing. In doing so, it followed a specific philosophy of grant-getting. As Lanam puts it: “We tied it to programs.”

In any case, council did approve the various grants the FPD applied for without much difficulty, although one councilmember reports that the story might have been different with a different council majority: Although most council votes on police issues are unanimous, two of the five members would reportedly vote less funding to the FPD if they had a chance of winning.

The School Resource Officers
Fremont received funding for seven officers from the Title I COPS grants. The most recent grant funded two officers: The first was a traffic officer that allowed the FPD to complete its decentralization of the traffic unit by geographic zones (the odd number of officers Fremont had in the traffic unit had made it awkward to do so before). The second hire was a gang enforcement officer who Fremont would assign to the newly-created Southern Alameda County Gang Task Force.

But the FPD’s major push for hiring grants involved the School Resource Officers (SROs) described by Lanam above. This choice of programs for pursuing grant funding is not surprising, as the officers’ salaries are funded 50/50 by the FPD and the school district. Consequently, the cost issue Fremont faced in applying for federal grants was mitigated in this special case.

According to Lanam, two factors led Fremont to create the SRO program. The first was a community survey the department had commissioned from California State University at Hayward, which identified police relationships with the teenage community as particularly troubling. But the second and more immediate factor was a growing gang problem at some area high schools, particularly American High School, which was located one block away from the site of a violent confrontation that had left one of its students dead. As Lanam remembers it, that event was a catalyst: “We said, ‘We have a problem, but it is not just related to this particular high school. It is a problem that we need to look at at all the high schools, and we are spending our time running from high school to high school putting out small fires [while] the big fires are breaking out. Why not take a more preventative approach to it? Put a school resource officer in there assigned to that high school.’”

As usual, the department started the idea on a pilot basis, assigning one officer to American for a three-month period. Everyone involved considered the experiment a success, so the department extended that officer’s tenure through summer school and began searching for funding to put officers in all five area high schools (soon afterwards, Fremont would hire a sixth SRO to work at the local continuation high school). Fremont successfully applied for COPS funding to make up part of the cost, and the school district agreed to pay half of the remainder after parents turned out in support of the plan.

The FPD recently commissioned an evaluation of the SRO program, and by all accounts it has been a success. Teachers welcomed the officers because they took over supervision and discipline tasks that had previously fallen on them; high school administrators and truant officers welcomed the SROs because they finally had a point person in the police department (a sentiment other city employees who work with youth share); and most students seemed to welcome the officers as well, seeing them as more approachable than the average anonymous officer on the street. The officers themselves reportedly find the job rewarding but draining, as it (like many detective jobs but unlike patrol) creates a workload that does not go away at the end of the day; the department is currently considering how it can make the positions sufficiently attractive for the next round of assignment bids. Finally, city council has reportedly been enthusiastic about the program and intends to support it when the grant funding expires next year. Councilmember JoNelle Zager maintains, “I think what you'll see is the commitment to say ‘Yes, we got money from someplace else to start this program. It's a good program. Let's take more money and put it into that and keep it going.’ Not every single program we're going to do is probably going to be as effective as this.” Most important, the SRO program has, perhaps more than anything else in the FPD, brought its officers into close contact with a particular community—something that has proven to be a challenge in Fremont, as described above. As Zager explains, “The community does want to know who their patrol cop is. It's just in a different setting and it's for kids.”

Domestic Violence
In addition to the hiring grants, Fremont also banded together with three neighboring cities (Newark, Hayward, and Union City) and a nonprofit called Shelter Against Violent Environments (SAVE) to apply successfully for a $250,000 domestic violence grant. The grant funded a number of activities, including roll-call training sessions by SAVE advocates, the dissemination of domestic violence information throughout Southern Alameda County, the formation of an interagency task force focused on domestic violence, and an evaluation of the entire effort.

But from the FPD’s point-of-view, the grant’s most important element was the funding it provided for four SAVE advocates, two of which were assigned jointly to Fremont and Newark and work directly out of the FPD’s headquarters. In essence, the advocates expanded on Sergeant Eads’s original domestic violence C.O.P.P.S. project: The advocates get a copy of all FPD domestic violence reports, and they follow up with the victims by telephone to offer information and services. In Eads’s eyes, the program “has really dovetailed into [his C.O.P.P.S. program] very nicely . . . So they [the victims] are not only getting the officers going back and following up on the calls, but we also now have a professional advocate following up, too, at least on the phone.” The new program has had some difficulty with turnover among the advocates, but not, apparently, because of the program itself.


As of 1997, many in Fremont consider C.O.P.P.S. to still be in its early stages. Nevertheless, some of the initiative’s core principles have influenced the way the FPD relates to environment, how its operational and administrative systems work, and how the department is managed.

1. Relationship with the Environment

The Authorizing Environment
As C.O.P.P.S. has taken hold in the FPD and reinvention has taken hold in the city, the bases for authorizing FPD choices and actions have begun to shift. In most cases, the Fremont community (in various guises) seems to exercise more control over its police department than it did in the past, although it is also important to note the new restraints on community control.

City Government
The strong dialogue between city hall and the FPD focuses on solving community problems and streamlining government. One way the current city administration has advanced this dialogue has been by calling for police participation in interagency teams that focus on specific community problems. Sometimes these problems are broadly-focused: For example, Fremont has recently pushed a citywide youth action plan that initiated a broad-based dialogue on youth issues in the city, and police are among the many agencies who have participated. At other times, the problems have more of a neighborhood focus, as when the city manager’s office formed an interagency task force to deal with longstanding problems in the Central Avenue area of Fremont (a story described in more detail below). But the City Manager has also called for FPD participation on more administrative projects. Examples in this vein include a team focused on streamlining the city’s personnel systems and a more recent one that is reviewing the need to write a new city charter.

On the other hand, a major thrust of reinvention has been empowering the city departments to take on tasks they identify, and this philosophy has led to a tangible sense of freedom among agency staff. One city employee explains of an initiative she spearheaded: “I would have [never] even thought to have presented it to a previous city manager. But Jan [Perkins], knowing Jan, knowing that she was encouraging us to think outside of the box—it was all about reinvention and let's take a look at the way we do things and let's try to think of ways that we could shortcut and cut out the red tape and be much more customer-oriented. If it wasn’t for all that, . . . I wouldn’t have done it.”

The discretion agencies have shows up most concretely in the city’s budgeting process. Budgets are developed at agency initiative, with only policy-level guidance from City Council, and the expectation that budgets will be tied to an officially-adopted citywide strategic plan. For example, as departments were preparing their budget requests in the middle of the most recent budget cycle, it became clear that there would be more to go around than in the previous year. As a result, departments had to make significant choices about where the extra money would go. In the case of the police, City Council gave only one direction: “What we said for the police department is we want more sworn cops to go in,” Councilmember JoNelle Zager remembers. Moreover, between budget cycles, the departments have considerable discretion in how they use the funds they have received. Perkins explains, “Once the departments get the budget, they are responsible and accountable for managing that budget and they certainly can make changes between line items if they wish to do that.” There are limits to this discretion, of course: “They can’t alter the basic program,” Perkins explains. “[But] there’s a tremendous amount of discretion that departments have to decide how to use resources to accomplish the city’s overall strategic plan.” For example, if attrition is higher than expected, a department will underspend on salaries, and it can use the money relatively freely to meet program objectives. When the FPD recently found itself in this situation, Steckler used the salary savings to hire part-time employees (called Public Service Assistants, or PSAs) to relieve records specialists of their duties at the front desk.

Responding to The Community
On the community side, there are two stories to be told about the FPD: On one hand, the department clearly has a strong commitment to involve and empower the community—a commitment that is central to the C.O.P.P.S. philosophy. On the other hand, because of the nature of Fremont’s “community” (as described extensively above), there remain challenges in realizing that commitment.

When community members—either individually or in groups—bring concerns to the FPD, the department clearly puts a high priority on responding to them. For example, Fremont police have a well-developed system for following-up on complaints about traffic conditions (like a dangerous intersection), and it seems to respond to other concerns when residents or businesses raise them. Moreover, the FPD’s Neighborhood Watch unit has become expert at responding to groups of residents who want to do something about crime and safety concerns in their area; Mike Nottoli, Fremont’s indefatigable Neighborhood Watch head, has become a well-known figure in the city through his presentations to interested residents—presentations that include tips on crime prevention, crime reporting, and working effectively as a group.

Most of these issues deal with neighborhood-level problems, but the department has also begun listening to the community’s voice on larger policy issues. The FPD’s recent attempt to get the city to adopt a daytime youth ordinance (something like a curfew during school hours) can serve as an example. Initially the department put the idea forward without soliciting input from the city’s standing youth commission, as Maintenance and Recreation Director Jack Rogers explains:

Though grounded in the department’s initial failure to solicit community input, the case nevertheless illustrates its growing concern to incorporate community voice in its decisions: Like all norms, the FPD’s felt duty to be responsive to the community became most clear when it was violated. In any case, many other recent FPD decisions (like its earlier proposal for a nighttime curfew, and its recent revision of its policy on officer pursuits), have been made in consultation with community representatives.

Being responsive to the community does not, however, mean passive acceptance of any demand an organized group makes—to the contrary, the FPD seems to approach its relationship with the community as a dialogue. A dramatic example comes from an early C.O.P.P.S. project known around the city as “4250 Central,” after the apartment complex that became a citywide cause célèbre when a series of fires broke out there in 1994. That complex and several others on in the Central Avenue Corridor had become a growing concern in recent years, and the entire area had shown some signs of decline. Councilmember JoNelle Zager, who also lives in the area, recalls: “Guys would go up and urinate, they’d throw cans of oil over into people’s pools, gunshots going off. Just a lot of things like that. And people got to a point where they felt unsafe and they were willing to move their families out of the area.” In any case, after the fires, the Glenmoor Homeowner’s Association—representing residents from an area that abutted the back side of 4250 Central—brought their concerns to City Council and demanded action (as did the Centerville Coalition, a resident’s group whose membership overlapped with Glenmoor).

In response, the city created an interdepartmental Centerville Action Team to spearhead a multifaceted response, from creating a long-term revitalization plan to dealing with the immediate safety concerns at the complex (including both the fires and the drug activity many felt went on in the area). Initially the FPD’s mandate, as per complaints from the community, was to deal with the problem at 4250. But Lieutenant Gus Arroyo, who got assigned to the project and spent several months working on it, soon found that the issue was more complicated than that. As he remembers it,

Arroyo himself came to this conclusion in conjunction with Housing Department employee May Lee, who he had consulted when he found that there were housing code issues and landlord-tenant problems at 4250. As the two spoke with residents, reviewed police data, and simply spent more and more time in the complex, they began to feel that 4250—though not without its problems—was not entirely to blame for the area’s difficulties. In particular, Arroyo spent a long period of time building trust with the residents (many of whom were Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal), and he eventually began getting their perspective on who was behind the problems. “Eventually, they started pinpointing a very small group of people,” Arroyo remembers. “[They were] saying, ‘Well, you know, the people in that apartment, and a bunch of people who visit, who don't even live here.’” At the same time, Arroyo’s analyses of police data were finding that 4250 was not really a hot spot at all: “In order to put it in perspective, I . . . started looking at data in monthly increments, and then compared it to other apartments of the same size, and you could see that it was really no different than any other apartment of that same size.” In particular, the rest of the Central Avenue area—including a number of other apartment complexes and a nearby commercial area—had problems at least as large as 4250 did.

Finally, Arroyo tried to investigate some concerns about the residents themselves. As Arroyo remembers it, many complaints about the building portrayed it as an overstuffed, unsafe place to live. “Some officers were saying, ‘Oh, there’s nothing but drugs and ten, twenty people living in an apartment.’” He and May Lee decided to investigate that claim themselves:

In any case, Arroyo soon confronted some of the community members who were complaining about 4250 with the information he had learned. Arroyo remembers one meeting with the Glenmoor group particularly well:

Arroyo began bringing that same message to many of the people in government and in the community who had their attention focused on 4250. The complex was not without its problems, and he and Lee worked hard to deal with those through eviction and enforcement. But the data and personal knowledge Arroyo had amassed showed that many other nearby areas deserved at least as much attention, and he and May Lee worked hard to get that message out.

The story illustrates that in some ways, community policing has meant taking a less “responsive” posture towards expressed community concerns. That, of course, is not to criticize the FPD, but to characterize its accomplishment accurately. Fremont officers had for years taken neighborhood complaints about 4250 at face value, responding to them with heavy enforcement and saturation patrols. But Arroyo and Lee, by working closely with the residents of the complex—who themselves had not been organized—found that the story was more complicated, and they argued that point forcefully against those (including others in the FPD) who thought differently. In the end, backed by a thorough analysis of the problem, they were able to reframe the discussion about Central Avenue and redirect police resources to the areas that needed it. Many of the Corridor’s problems were temporarily cleaned up within about six months through a combination of law enforcement, physical repairs, and evictions.

Community Outreach
In any case, 4250 Central reflects the relatively uncommon case in which a neighborhood group brings its concerns to the department. More often, the FPD has found itself in the opposite situation: With a reason to focus on an area (for example, a rash of burglaries that officers have noticed), but no clear way of gauging the community’s perception of the problem. Fremont police have made a commitment to identify problems that the community feels is important, but they have faced some challenges in developing the necessary connections, and most officers seem to have little experience working with organized community groups.

Nevertheless, the FPD has found a number of ways of gauging community sentiment. First, many officers see C.O.P.P.S. as a call to get more involved with community members in the course of routine patrol and call response. One officer who explained that he had only attended one neighborhood watch meeting in his career at the FPD described his strategy for learning about community concerns as follows: “It’s getting out of your patrol car. You get out, you talk to neighbors. When you take a burglary report, you go out and you talk to your neighbors, because you always want to see if the neighbors saw anything.” Here patrol officers’ responsibility for investigations puts them in closer contact with the community than otherwise might be the case. “It’s a little bit of contact because you make them aware of something that’s going on,” the officer continues. “And a lot of times they will say, ‘Hey, I know this isn’t related, but you know, this family down the street, they always leave their kids unattended,’ something like that.”

Second, the department has identified a few coherent “communities” that officers can access on a fairly regular basis. One example is the “Adopt-a-Shopping Center” program spearheaded by officer Mark Devine; through this program, officers volunteer to take responsibility for a particular shopping center in the city, a job that entails meeting regularly with store owners and property management to learn about pressing concerns. But the SRO program is perhaps the best example where the FPD has developed strong ties with a particular community. As Sergeant Curt Codey (who oversees the SROs) explains “They are essentially a one-person police department for that community. . . . They are there full time. And any issue whatsoever that comes up, whether it is an actual criminal matter or if it is a counseling session, or mentoring kids in the classroom, they are going to help.” As Codey describes it, SROs take on many tasks: They assist the school administration by teaching classes related to the policing field, such as driver’s safety, drugs, and personal safety; they undertake counseling and mediation, both as a way to help prevent delinquency and as a way to build rapport with students; and they attend school events like dances and sporting events. Finally, the SROs develop more idiosyncratic programs tailored to the needs and desires of their particular communities. For example, one SRO started a school watch program where students patrol hallways and locker areas during their free periods, and others have helped to identify students for a business mentorship program. Through all this activity, Codey maintains, the officers become intimately familiar with the issues facing the communities they police.

Finally, whenever it can, the department has tried to plug into existing organizations, whether or not they are focused on crime. Many of the ways in which the FPD has sought to address special groups like CERT teams, PTAs, or ad hoc assemblies of citizens brought together for other purposes were described above. But the FPD has also plugged into its own extensive network of Neighborhood Watch groups. Even where these groups do not meet very frequently (many meet only once a year), they offer a set of contacts that CSO Mike Nottoli can use to gauge neighborhood opinion when necessary. For example, when the problems surrounding an area Motel 6 became a citywide issue, the FPD turned to an area NW group to get their perspective on the issue (a story described in more detail below). At times, Nottoli has taken a proactive stance towards organizing when a specific need arises: For example, when one gated community suffered a rash of burglaries, Nottoli approached the homeowner’s association board of directors to ask if he could try to organize the residents. The board agreed, and Nottoli found a receptive audience in the neighborhood.

One area in which the FPD has not been particularly proactive in community outreach concerns its press relations. To be sure, the FPD has a very open press policy, allowing any FPD member to issue a press release. Nevertheless, most of these releases focus on individual crime incidents. There are exceptions: Donna Gott, who oversees the FPD’s volunteer program, has sent out press releases on her initiatives, partly as a way of recruiting more volunteers. And most notably, Mike Nottoli has raised the FPD’s visibility markedly through a weekly column he writes for the Fremont Argus. But the department has not undertaken a vigorous public relations campaign to get the word out about C.O.P.P.S. through the media. Doing so is perhaps less necessary in a city like Fremont than it is in many places that have been pushed towards community policing, as the FPD has always enjoyed a strong public image.

The Task Environment
In any case, the most dramatic shift in FPD relationships does not concern the community, but the other public agencies police collaborate with. There is widespread consensus around Fremont that the FPD works much more closely with other agencies of city government than it did in the past.

City Government
Both FPD members and the agencies they partner with report unequivocally that collaboration has increased. Indeed, many within the FPD distinguish C.O.P.P.S. from similar efforts in the past precisely in terms of its emphasis on interagency collaboration (a common definition of a C.O.P.P.S. project is “something that is going to require more than police resources to resolve”). Outside the FPD, almost every public agency in the city reports that interaction with police has grown markedly of late. For example, one code enforcement officer maintains: “If anything’s changed [in] recent years, it’s been the increase in the number of times that they do call us.” An interesting symbol of the FPD’s new collaborative posture is the substation it opened in an area mall, which serves not only as a police storefront, but as a contact office for all city services (for example, the FPD has made sure that the volunteers who staff the substation are trained to help citizens fill out simple permit applications for a variety of Fremont agencies).

This growing collaboration takes several forms, but two types stand out. First, police increasingly turn to other city agencies and even private institutions for their enforcement powers. Code enforcement is the obvious example, as the FPD has repeatedly turned to the city’s Department of Community Preservation (which enforces most city codes concerning safety and sanitation) or the Fire Department (which enforces fire codes) for help dealing with problem buildings. But through work with the city’s Housing Department (which seems to have begun during the Central Avenue project), the FPD has discovered other housing-based enforcement tools as well. In many problem-solving projects, the FPD and the Housing Department have pushed apartment managers to evict and screen problem tenants, or simply tried to help the managers do so; and the two agencies have occasionally tried to leverage other sanctions as well, like the provisions attached to federal housing assistance that forbid involvement in drugs or disruptive behavior. Finally, the FPD has occasionally worked in similar ways with the Department of Environmental Services on zoning violations, development permits, or the development of new land-use regulations (like a recent adult bookstore ordinance).

The second type of collaboration is tied to the FPD’s growing emphasis on prevention. As described below, the most visible example of this comes from the city’s new diversion programs, developed in collaboration with the Department of Human Services. But the FPD has also worked with the city’s Maintenance and Recreation Department on preventative initiatives, such as a successful joint grant application that sought to fund recreation and education for at-risk youth. Finally, the department’s collaboration with local nonprofits (including a domestic violence shelter and an agency concerned with homelessness) also reflect a preventative bent.

Whether its goals center on enforcement or prevention, collaboration has required a change of perspective from the FPD. For example, the first section of this case explained how DES’s Roger Shanks criticized FPD officers for the “tunnel vision” they brought to most collaborative projects. Today, Shanks is more optimistic; referring to police participation in the CTCC (which reviews development proposals), he explains:

In practice, this shift in perspective often entails a tangible reshuffling of police priorities, as police must relax their concern about traditional safety and disorder issues in order to accommodate the priorities that other agencies hold dear. Maintenance Director Jack Rogers provides a good example:

Here citizen complaints provided police with a clear choice: Should they consider late-night basketball games a case of neighborhood disorder (and possibly a technical curfew violation), or a constructive outlet for youth energy? The former might seem to fit more squarely within the traditional view of the police role: Police are, after all, primarily concerned with maintaining public order. But in the event the FPD viewed late-night basketball not as delinquency but as a constructive activity—a view that obviously agrees with Rogers’s own. Like many other agency heads, Rogers views this new mindset as absolutely indispensable to productive interagency relationships.

In addition to a new mindset, the FPD has sought to develop new organizational structures that make interagency partnerships easier. The most common strategy of this type involves designating liaisons, which abound in the new FPD: Its business liaison serves as a point person on economic development issues; the SROs serve as liaisons to schools and other agencies on youth issues; the newly-formed Street Crimes unit increasingly serves as a clearinghouse for most code enforcement issues; and the new Zone Captains are charged with serving as liaison to all other agencies when non-routine business arises. The SRO program can serve as an example of this genre, as Human Services employee Lisa Gioia explains how these officers serve as a useful point-of-contact for her in the FPD: “It really put in the Police Department some people who were focused on children’s issues,” she explains. “We now have specialists for youth which I don't think they really had in the department prior to this. Because the way that the department is designed, there is not a youth division.” Though she would prefer such a division, the SROs serve as a workable substitute:

Many of the FPD’s “liaison” positions serve other, more immediate purposes as well: The SRO positions, for example, were created to deal with emerging problems in city schools. But a partly unintended byproduct has been to facilitate cooperation with other agencies that work with youth.

There are, of course, still concerns about interagency collaboration in Fremont, and many of these challenges are the inverse of the success stories. In other words, if some agency partners attribute successes to a broadened police perspective, they blame the failures on persistent “tunnel vision.” For example, when the FPD started an after-school basketball program at the local junior high, the city’s Maintenance and Recreation Department saw the initiative as evidence that C.O.P.P.S. was being designed from the old police-centered perspective, as Recreation specialist Virginia Duffy explains:

Maintenance and Recreation Direction Jack Rogers explains that the incident was particularly frustrating because it took place at a time when his department was trying to get the FPD to participate in a summer camp program.

This particular incident was dealt with amicably, as Rogers raised the issue with Steckler after one of the city’s weekly department head meetings and the Chief acknowledged his concerns. Moreover, the incident actually took place two years ago, and Rogers and Duffy both report improvements since then. Nevertheless, similar concerns have arisen with other departments, particularly where sensitive budget issues are concerned,17 and Rogers himself believes that it represents a broader concern:

Ironically, the C.O.P.P.S. philosophy itself underlies some of the new turf issues: As police try to expand their role, they run afoul of other departments’ roles. This idea appears in the recreation example, but Human Services Director Suzanne Shenfil gives a similar account:

Shenfil goes on to echo Rogers’s concerns about budget issues: “It’s also a matter of resource allocation and cost efficiency, since trained sworn officers often cost more than other professional or para-professional staff who could carry out the same roles or tasks.”

Other challenges stem from persistently unwieldy aspects of the FPD’s structure. One repeated concern is the Police Department’s reliance on formal structure, which many of the city’s more informal agencies find difficult to understand. But the most common concern about the FPD’s organization is its constant rotation of personnel. Shenfil, for example, explains:

But Shenfil’s own explanation of the problem points to the competing purposes at stake: In order to make the Department more “user-friendly,” the FPD might have to sacrifice other important values like career growth and mobility (values the POA protects vigorously). Thus, some of the outstanding challenges in managing interagency partnerships do not necessarily have an easy “solution.”

The Criminal Justice System
Despite these persistent challenges, which may represent the normal conflicts in any relationship, police-city government relations have clearly grown and improved in recent years. That fact becomes particularly clear when we compare those relationships to the FPD’s ties in the criminal justice system.

It is not that the FPD does not get along with its criminal justice partners. To the contrary, Fremont police have maintained their traditionally strong presence in policing circles: For example, the FPD sends its employees to innumerable training sessions sponsored by police professional associations (and it has invited other agencies to its own, as it did when Herman Goldstein came to Fremont to speak about problem-solving); it maintains a high profile in the Alameda County community of police departments (including participating in various interagency task forces to target specific crimes like narcotics and auto theft, and sending out many FPD crime analysis bulletins to neighboring agencies); and Steckler has even put managers from neighboring police agencies on FPD promotion committees.

Nevertheless, the FPD has increasingly found that traditional criminal justice sanctions do not meet its changing needs. The crux of the problem is that Fremont is a relatively low-crime community in a high-crime county: The sorts of cases Fremont sends to the county justice system tend to be less serious than those from its neighbors to the North (particularly Oakland, Berkeley, and Hayward), so the response tends to be less serious as well. The result has been frustration in the local community, which finds the criminal justice system unresponsive. For example, CSO Joyce Alessandrino, who has worked extensively on the FPD’s youth diversion programs, recalls that the county juvenile justice system all but ignored the graffiti cases Fremont sent it: “We were experiencing a lot of incidents of graffiti all around town,” she explains. “The problem was that the juvenile justice system had been impacted by an increase in violent crime [by] juveniles, and a lot of budget cuts at the same time. So, when we send our cases for graffiti over to them, nothing would happen.”

The FPD’s response to these challenges has been to look beyond the criminal justice system for sanctions. For example, in response to the graffiti issue, the Department developed a diversion program for youth that it ran itself: When officers cite youth for graffiti, they write up a Notice to Appear (NTA) but do not send it to the court immediately. Instead, the offenders are given the option of completing a community service program, in which they clean up graffiti and vandalism around the city. If they complete the program (as 95% do), the NTA is destroyed. Fremont has expanded the original program to include a number of first-time misdemeanor offenses, and it has started a separate juvenile diversion program for first-time offenders arrested for drug possession. The programs have been well-received in all quarters—including in the juvenile probation department itself—and one of them received a statewide award.

2. Operations
Operations in the FPD are divided into four units: Dispatch, Investigations, Patrol, and Community Partnerships. Reforms in dispatch were described above, and investigations have not changed markedly since the 1980s—patrol officers still do many investigations themselves, with investigators taking on more serious or nonstandard cases. The community partnerships unit has undergone considerable evolution in recent years, with the overriding goal of getting more community involvement in the department: It developed the extensive volunteer program described above, created a new business liaison position, expanded the Neighborhood Watch program, and developed the new School Resource Officer program; Community Partnerships also oversaw the development of the new storefront substation, spearheaded the FPD’s diversion programs, and ran several ad hoc community events (like the FPD’s recent open house). Nevertheless, the most significant changes in the FPD—simply because they touch the core of the department’s operations—concern the transformation of its patrol force, which will be the focus of this section.

Patrol in the FPD
FPD patrol officers (including those assigned to the traffic unit) are assigned to one of three zones in the city according to the 4/11 shift system described above. For example, the A team employs 14 officers on day shift, 15 on swing shift, and 10 on the midnight shift; these officers are then distributed more-or-less evenly across the three zones. Each shift assigns three sergeants to oversee and patrol each of the zones. The new Reporting Area program further assigns officers to a smaller area within one of the zones, giving them responsibilities for liaison and coordination (as described above), but it is currently operating only on a pilot basis in zone 1.

Officers have the usual responsibilities of police work, including response to calls-for-service and randomized patrol. Not much has changed in these areas over the years: The department has always tried to target officers’ “randomized” patrol by identifying the areas that need it most; and where 911 calls are concerned, Fremont officers have always placed a high premium on being responsive to the public when they are on call. One major change in this area, however, is the way officers respond to and document domestic violence incidents, in which they now follow the protocol developed by Mike Eads (as described above). Indeed, to many officers, this is the single most tangible effect C.O.P.P.S. has had on their work. While some officers are apparently not particularly happy with the change, most seem to comply with it.

But the centerpiece of C.O.P.P.S. in the patrol force is, of course, community problem-solving. In part problem-solving is simply an attitude that officers (and indeed the entire FPD) take to their work: Extensive training in recent years has taught them to look behind individual calls and incidents for the causal factors that are generating these incidents. But for the sake of exposition, problem-solving in the FPD can be described in terms of the two formalized systems the department has developed for that purpose: The old CCATs and the new “C.O.P.P.S. projects.” The former tend to be smaller, place-based neighborhood problems that require increased police attention, typically from more than one officer (other departments call similar activities “directed patrols”). C.O.P.P.S. projects, on the other hand, tend to focus on larger problems that require outside resources (such as cooperation from other city agencies, businesses, or property owners). The department began pursuing and encouraging C.O.P.P.S. projects in earnest in 1996, and around three dozen of them are currently active in the FPD.

Both sorts of “problems” come to FPD attention in various ways: A community group may push police and other city agencies to focus on a problem (as in the Central Avenue case), officers or supervisors may notice a problem in the course of their work, crime analysis may identify a hot spot, and so on. Most problems seem to be nominated by officers, who in the course of their work notice recurring calls-for-service that seem to have related causes; indeed, repeated training sessions have exhorted officers to look behind the calls they take for the underlying problem that is generating them. For example, one officer who cleaned up a makeshift camp for the homeless began working on the problem because of repeated 911 calls from nearby businesses, and occasionally from the neighborhood. The calls initially seemed unrelated—a bar or restaurant owner might call about a disturbance one of the “campers” had made on his or her property, or a neighborhood resident would call about a drug sale in the area. But eventually the officer came to the conclusion that most of the calls could be traced to the group of people who were living in the illegal camp, and he got approval from his supervisor to open a C.O.P.P.S. project on the problem.18

Problems get handled in a variety of ways. The smaller CCATs usually entail directed patrols at specific times and, in some cases, covert surveillance leading up to arrests. C.O.P.P.S. projects, by contrast, vary considerably. Smaller problems, like the “urban camp” described above, are typically handled by a small group of officers who develop a strategy for responding to them, perhaps meeting a few times with the outside agencies who will help resolve the problem. Larger problems, like the Central Avenue project, often involve higher levels of the department as well as a formal team of outside agencies (in the Central Avenue case, the city manager’s office put together a Centerville Action Team that Arroyo met with regularly; other projects have had similar, though smaller-scale teams of this sort).

In all cases, time is an important issue: Fremont has a very low officer-to-citizen ratio (approximately 1.02 officers per 1,000 residents), and although the city has a low crime rate, its large geographic size partly counterbalances that advantage. In any case, some officers complain that they don’t have the time to work on problem-solving—whether for directed patrols of a trouble spot, for attending community meetings, or simply for making phone calls to relevant agencies and institutions. But in the event, most officers seem to make time; one explains: “There is still a considerable amount of time you have to be free. And if you really sat there and thought about ‘I have 10 minutes here, 15 minutes here or a half hour here,’ you [would find that you’ve] got the time. There are days when it seems like you are running around just time and time again for people, just calls for service. But on the other hand there is a lot of time.” Another officer explains that the issue is how one uses free time, which has always existed:

All officers I spoke with report feeling that their supervisors encourage the use of “free” time for problem-solving, and the practice seems to be widespread in the department. Moreover, supervisors often approve officers’ use of overtime to work on problem-solving, and when staffing is over certain pre-set levels, they will authorize certain cars to work on problem-solving while other officers cover their calls. Finally, at least one sergeant has offered to cover for his officers by taking calls himself, in order that they can work on problem-solving projects. With strategies like these, together with the shift overlap created by the 4/11 plan, many officers seem able to find time when they need it.

Motel 6
Perhaps the easiest way to get a sense of what problem-solving means in Fremont is to recount one of the more elaborate examples of place-based problem solving the FPD has pursued. One such example is known in the department as the “Motel 6” project.

The Charter Square Motel 6 had been a problem for Fremont police for years, but the location only became a significant focus for police attention in early 1997, when a nearby property-owner proposed to build a new, 45-room EconoLodge motel. As DES’s Roger Shanks explains, “When this new use came in, it sort of opened up this whole Pandora’s box.” The proposal initially went through the planning commission’s usual procedures, being put on the agenda for an upcoming public meeting. But trouble was simmering in the background.

CSO Cecilia Villabrille had an early sense of that trouble because of work she had been doing in the adjacent Charter Square shopping center. Center businesses had long had problems with robbery and theft, and Villabrille had been trying to teach some crime prevention principles to individual store-owners and to the center’s property manager. In the process, she had learned a lot about the area’s problems, and she knew that local business owners and residents considered the Motel 6 to be a problem.

At the same time, Villabrille also sat on Fremont’s development review board (CTCC), and when the EconoLodge project came before it, she sensed trouble. Indeed, when word about the proposal got out, residents and business owners she knew in the area began voicing their opposition to her. In response, Villabrille wrote up a set of guidelines she thought the new hotel should abide by should it be approved, and she brought the issue to the attention to her supervisor, Sergeant Curt Codey, who oversaw the FPD’s community partnerships unit.

Pushed at the same time by a nearby homeowners association, which had requested crime data on the area, Codey undertook a statistical analysis of the Motel 6. As it turned out, the Motel 6 had generated 699 calls-for-service in the past two years. The number seemed enormous, but to be certain, Codey collected comparative data for other similar-sized motels in the city, and found that the second largest call volume was 150 calls for the same period. The Charter Square Motel 6 clearly had a problem.

With this information in hand, the FPD came to two conclusions. First, as the community had said all along, the EconoLodge was a bad proposal—police felt the new hotel would make an already bad situation worse. Codey took his data to the planning commission and formally registered the Department’s opposition to the proposal (he was joined by many residents from the area, who independently turned out at the meeting to voice their opposition). But second, whether or not the EconoLodge got approved, the existing Motel 6 was a serious problem that demanded a comprehensive response.

As a first step, Codey and Mike Lanam contacted the Motel 6 corporation, starting with the local office but ultimately calling up the corporation’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas. “They were very accommodating,” Codey remembers. “They met with Mike and I, and [they] agreed [to] do what it took to resolve the problem.” The corporation’s vice president agreed to attend an upcoming community meeting on the issue that had been organized in response to growing community concerns. Put together by Claudia Albano, the city’s new Neighborhood Resources Manager, that meeting would assemble representatives from several different interest groups—from members of community groups (including four area Homeowner’s associations, a nearby Neighborhood Watch group, and a CERT team), to city government officials (including police, planning, and code enforcement), to area businesses (including the Motel 6 Vice President and the architect for the proposed EconoLodge).

The meeting served as a public forum that aimed to deal with the area’s problems. The different interests were clearly drawn: Residents were simply fed up with the crime and disorder that they felt the Motel was generating, and they strongly opposed the new project. Neighborhood Watch leader Mary Biggs remembers: “I have been burglarized, many of us have. And we feel that it is this come and go, grab what they can for drugs—and there is a fair amount of drug activity going through that hotel. . . . . And there is a grocery store too that many of the residents use which we felt had become unsafe because of the riff-raff from Motel 6 coming there and causing problems.” At the same time, others at the meeting wanted to make clear that their goal was not to shut down the existing motel nor to unequivocally deny the new proposal. As DES’s Shanks puts it, “Our job here is not to categorically deny a project because the neighborhood doesn’t like it, but to try and see how we can solve the problems and make it a success for all parties.” Or in Lanam’s words: “Let’s take the fact that we’re not going to put Motel 6 out of business. Now how do we resolve the issue?”

In the end, meeting participants devised a three-pronged strategy for dealing with the existing problem. First, Motel 6 agreed to expand its security coverage, notably by installing a kiosk that would control access to its parking lot. Second, the company agreed to make some landscaping changes motivated by crime prevention principles. Third, Motel 6 agreed to a new policy for the Charter Square property that prohibited renting rooms to Fremont residents: Many felt that locals (meaning residents of Fremont, Union City, and Newark) were causing the Motel’s problems, using the Motel as a site for drug use and other criminal activity; and although Motel 6 did not want to give up all business from the Tri-City area—which amounted to a substantial proportion of its revenues—, it did agree to exclude Fremont residents on a trial basis. The impact of the new policy would be evaluated monthly, with the possibility of extending it if it appeared to be working.

Codey, at least, was very satisfied with the final agreement and the willingness Motel 6 expressed to cooperate; he explains that the agreement “equates to about two hundred and fifty thousand dollar financial impact to Motel 6 that they agreed to within two hours of just sitting down with the community members and negotiating out the terms.” The plan went into effect July 1, 1997, so it was too soon to gauge its impact by the time of my early-August site visit.19 But the FPD has extensive plans to monitor the plan’s impact over time: It is generating monthly statistics on the Motel, and it has scheduled quarterly meetings to revisit the initial agreement and decide what additional actions seem necessary. In any case, residents are satisfied with the process as much as the result. Biggs explains: “It was nice that we could sit down and express our views, because it affects us directly;” moreover, she is simply reassured to know that police attention is finally focused on the area: “I am just real happy because I just think the police really care about it,” she explains. “They are not going to ignore it.”

Another major achievement of the deliberation was separating the Motel 6 issue from the EconoLodge one. Shanks and members of his staff have met separately with the EconoLodge architect to devise a more security-conscious plan that might also help mitigate some of the existing problems in the area. In particular, residents at the Motel 6 meeting expressed strong concerns about traffic flow: Currently, the one entrance to the parking lot essentially channels traffic through the neighborhood, and residents worried that the new motel might make matters worse. In response, Shanks and the EconoLodge developers have put forward a proposal to create another point of access to the lot, which would let traffic bypass neighborhood streets altogether. To be sure, many residents still oppose the project strongly: Shanks explains, “We are still getting letters in opposition from the homeowners out there that don’t want the new hotel period.” Only the new hearing on the proposal will tell the EconoLodge’s fate.

3. Administrative Systems
In some ways, FPD administrative systems have continued along the same path they had established in the 1980s. In particular, the department has if anything extended its emphasis on technology and analysis, as should be apparent from the discussion of problem-solving. The department has invested heavily in its newly-expanded crime analysis unit, which is increasingly used to support the identification, analysis, and assessment phases of problem-solving. For example, in both the Motel 6 and Central Avenue projects described above, the FPD sought to use statistical data to put the focal “problem” in perspective: In the Motel 6 example this analysis confirmed the initial problem diagnosis, but in Central Avenue, the analysis redirected attention away from the 4250 complex; thus data analysis does in fact exert an influence on how the FPD understands problems, and it can even trump other influences like community opinion (as in the Central Avenue case). Crime analysis also increasingly gets used as an assessment tool: Almost every major new initiative in the FPD undergoes a trial period after which its impacts are studied using crime data, surveys, and other research tools. In this way, information, analysis, and research truly drive much of the FPD’s decisionmaking today.

But if technology and analysis were the main forces driving administration in the pre-C.O.P.P.S. FPD, today the primary logic is somewhat broader. Instead of serving as ends in themselves, technology and analysis are one means towards a larger end, namely, team-based problem-solving. Administrative systems in the FPD are designed primarily to facilitate that style of police work.

Perhaps the clearest example of this shift is in the area of personnel evaluations. Recall that in the pre-C.O.P.P.S. FPD, evaluations were based heavily on statistics—particularly the number of arrests and citations. That system has since been discarded, partly because it does not measure the activities associated with community problem-solving (and hence in practice it discourages them). As POA President Blair explains:

By discarding the old evaluation system, the FPD actually sacrificed some “analytic” capacity in its administration for the larger goal of facilitating problem-solving. Steckler intends to re-establish evaluations once the department has designed a system that adequately measures community problem-solving, but for the time being he is content to do without formal evaluations entirely.

More positively, many other personnel systems have been restructured to facilitate problem-solving teams, and to focus their attention on small geographic areas. For example, many assignments and awards, and all promotions, are based on an officer’s demonstrated commitment to community problem-solving; as Steckler explains: “The rewards around here are based on your participation [in C.O.P.P.S. projects]. Promotions, reassignments, those kinds of issues, those kinds of rewards that I can put out, are based on [whether] you participate in community policing. If you don’t want to participate, you are not going to get promoted and you are not going to get reassigned.” Moreover, the complete reorganization of FPD shifts into the 4/11 system was undertaken precisely to create viable problem-solving teams. Finally, the FPD’s new zone-based reporting structure (where sergeants oversee officers within a single zone, and zone captains coordinate an area’s activities across shifts and teams), as well as the pilot Reporting Area project, are obviously intended to create geographic focus in the patrol force in order to put the department into better touch with neighborhood problems.

To be sure, some FPD administrative systems protect other interests besides community problem-solving. For example, department policy demands that a certain number of officers—indeed, usually the great majority of all officers on the street—remain available for calls-for-service; in other words, supervisors cannot protect these officers from calls in order to facilitate their problem-solving work. As another example, long-term beat integrity is limited by the FPD’s systems for assignments—which are seniority-driven and impermanent (for example, patrol officers can choose to switch zones every year). Nevertheless, in recent years, the broad thrust of FPD administrative change has clearly favored community problem-solving.

4. Management
Management in the FPD seeks to push initiative downward in the organization, trying to draw out and support the insights of front-line personnel. One major philosophical shift seems to underlie this effort: A shift away from the view of managers as supervisors and towards a view of managers as facilitators.

This view of the manager’s role is clearest at the level of Sergeants and Lieutenants. One Lieutenant explains that when officers are working on C.O.P.P.S. projects, the manager’s main role is to provide support:

Many managers throughout the department echo this sentiment, seeing their role as finding ways to enable initiative from those on the front lines. Of course, when front line workers fail to take the initiative, supervisors must push them along. As one puts the matter, “[We] kind of boot them. . . . . [If it’s] the sixth time they’ve been [to a place, I’ll say], ‘Can you think of something we can do?’ And if they don’t come up with a solution, I’ll come up with two or three and see if they’d like to work with [any of them].”

The department has pushed this view of management in many ways. One has been through constant training and mentoring, particularly by hiring consultant Tom Anderson to work closely with sergeants on how they fit in to the C.O.P.P.S. philosophy. Another has been through decentralizing decisionmaking power in important areas to the sergeant or lieutenant level, so that those supervisors actually have the authority to support their officers’ initiative. For example, in today’s FPD, sergeants can authorize overtime for all but the largest C.O.P.P.S. projects; and even there (for example, where overtime for five or six officers is concerned) the authority lies with the shift Lieutenant. To be sure, many supervisors have not fully adjusted to this newfound power: Lanam—who is currently the captain in charge of patrol—explains that “They come up to me all the time and ask me . . . ‘We want to work this [project] this weekend.’ . . . And that is one of the things that we are still trying to change. . . . We just had a meeting with the sergeants and I said, ‘You have the authority to do anything you want. I will tell you when you are breaking the bank on overtime.’”

Nevertheless, most FPD managers seem to understand the new emphasis on decentralized authority. One Lieutenant explains that the department affords shift commanders significant discretion in deciding how to use their resources:

Speaking about discretion to facilitate C.O.P.P.S. projects, another manager explains: “It is pretty easy. If I get called, I have to be able to tell them why I am doing this. But other than that, I don’t have to count the numbers. Mike [Lanam] is real easy, and if you have a common sense logical reason, [it’s ok.]”

This decentralized style must begin, of course, at the top. For his part, Steckler explains that he tries “to create an environment in which people are willing to take risks—that I’m not going to beat you up if something screws up.” For example, the FPD’s weekly management meetings are fairly open under Steckler, in that the Chief welcomes dissenting voices about the policy issues that arise in them. More generally, Steckler has tried to develop a participatory style to management, running most major decisions through the task groups created at the onset of C.O.P.P.S., or at least through the weekly management meetings. In doing so, the Chief has tried to set the tone for management at lower levels, emphasizing a style that places a high value on front-line initiative.

1 In a review of a draft of this document, more than one Fremont employee suggested that “middle class” or “diverse” would be a better word than “wealthy” to describe their city. Fremont is certainly not the wealthiest community in Silicon Valley, but 1990 census data list its median household income as $51,231, well above the $30,056 national average, and enough to put Fremont in the 86th percentile among California cities ranked by income (in other words, only 14% of California cities have higher median incomes than Fremont—including only four of the state’s 46 cities with populations over 100,000). As for Fremont’s diversity, racial and ethnic diversity is indeed high in the city, as described above. But economic diversity is not: According to 1990 census data, Fremont actually enjoys a fairly low degree of income inequality (its Gini coefficient of 0.28 was considerably lower than the national figure of 0.45; Gini coefficients vary between 0 and 1, with a 0 value indicating a perfectly equal income distribution).

2 Rana Sampson, who ran training sessions with FPD officers at the start of the department’s transition to C.O.P.P.S., reports her sense that the message got through: “Some police departments you walk into and what you hear from the officers is a lot of degrading remarks about the people in their community. And I don’t mean race-based comments or anything like that. But, you know, making fun of some of the citizens and the city. You just didn’t hear a lot of that [in Fremont].”

3 Anderson explains his insistence on this point as follows: “I am the advocate of do not do it—I mean everybody is into it now, so it is sort of foolish to say it—, but I am the advocate of do not do it until you have really thought it through and you know what the hell you are talking about. Because cops do not live in a world of intangibles and abstracts. They like things clear cut as much as you can make it, so you can not say to them, ‘Go do community policing,’ and when line people say, ‘What are you talking about?’ you say, ‘Don't have that put together yet, but please do it.’ Because they are going to say ‘That is bullshit, that is not the way things run. You tell us what you want.’ And a lot of people could not tell them. But Fremont did not make that mistake.”

4 Lanam (who got the job) attributes the idea to the POA and the sergeants: “The Police Officers Association and the sergeants are the ones that pressed the point that in order for us to transition, they needed to have somebody take the lead. And there had to be a significant signal . . . that the person had the authority and the power to make the changes. Their thought was if we were to assign a lieutenant or a sergeant, it was not a strong enough statement to the organization that the chief was willing to assign his top level managers to it. And that it would flounder because everybody would say, ‘Well that is only a lieutenant,’ or ‘that is only a sergeant.’ And another lieutenant could run over a sergeant, or a lieutenant could ignore the lieutenant, but a lieutenant has a very tough time ignoring a captain. And since we don't have deputy chiefs, it [i.e. the captain rank] is the second in command. It was the Association, and I give them a lot of credit for saying, ‘If we are going to do this, you better show us you mean business and you better show us that you are willing to put that person up front.’” In this way, the new position served as the first widely-visible signal that Fremont was embarking on C.O.P.P.S.

5 In retrospect, Lanam thinks his reservations were justified: “We found, unfortunately my fears were realized that a lot of stuff had been written in grants, and long dissertations were not that accurate. There were some serious issues with some of these agencies in that they were still struggling after eight years in C.O.P.P.S. They had not really transitioned the organization. They had transitioned parts of it, but the organization as a whole was not buying into it.” The site visits, however, protected Fremont from these problems: “Thank God for those people that stepped out in the early 80s and tried it, because they had the courage to do it. They did a lot of things wrong, but fortunately we did not have to repeat [them].”

6 Moreover, there was the problem that what the department had been doing—whether or not it had anything in common with C.O.P.P.S.—seemed to be working: Fremont had one of the lowest crime rates in the nation for a city its size. As Steckler remembers it: “The biggest mistake I made, is that we were a very successful organization at suppressing crime. . . . People . . . said, ‘Gee, why are we changing? What are we doing wrong if we have to change?” Steckler had an answer to that question—as described above, he thought that even though crime was not currently a problem, it was likely to become one in the future, given the trends Fremont was facing. But he admits that he did not make that answer clear up front: “I failed to articulate that the first time out of the blocks,” Steckler explains.

7 The project originated with Sergeant Mike Eads, who got the idea from a PERF presentation on repeat burglaries, which described a project that required officers to follow up with repeat burglary victims. Eads applied the idea to domestic violence after a computer analysis showed that that type of crime accounted for most of Fremont’s repeat calls, and he began the project on a trial basis in his own sector.

8 In Fremont’s Council-Manager form of government, the mayor acts as president of the city council.

9 Human Services, for example, finds that presence at the Police Department helps their outreach, because people are more receptive to outside help during their moments of crisis than they are even a few days later.

10 The FPD also used training to build ties with other police agencies, notably when it invited area police to a training seminar run by Herman Goldstein, who Fremont invited to discuss Problem-Oriented Policing.

11 The FPD has recently tried similar initiatives, such as the “Adopt-a-Shopping Center” program developed by officer Mark Devine, which charges individual officers (who volunteer for the program) with maintaining close contact with individual shopping centers and keeping a handle on their concerns.

12 Patrol officers have also helped to get the word out about volunteer opportunities. For example, John Simonetti, who helped spearhead the city’s volunteer handicapped parking patrol, got involved with the FPD during a chance encounter with police: Simonetti had confronted a young man who had illegally parked in a handicapped parking space, and when onlookers phoned police after he hurled his cane in anger, the responding officer suggested that he get involved with the FPD to do something about the problem.

13 FLSA guidelines created additional problems when the department decided to expand the system to civilian personnel, as described below.

14 The FPD undertook other efforts to reduce the 911 burden on officers. The phone reporting system for certain types of calls, described below, was one of them; another was reducing the number of zones in the city from 6 to 3, in order to mitigate the workload problem small zones had faced when even a single officer went out-of-service.

15 John M. Eads. “4-11 Shift Schedule Plan,” in Journal of California Law Enforcement, vol. 29, no. 4 (1995), pp. 77-79.

16 Which is not to say that it had full support. JoNelle Zager, a recently-elected councilmember who was not on the council when the phone reporting system came up for a vote, explains that she would have opposed the change. Even if the phone system is more efficient, she argues, it ignores the human side of victimization: “It's partly an emotional issue when your home is burglarized, say. Even if it's more efficient for the police to take it over the phone, you feel sort of violated, and you want the police or a social worker there to sort of support you.”

17 Rogers recalls that the basketball program arose at a time when his department was facing budgetary constraints, a circumstance that exacerbated the conflict: “There was a lot of second guessing as to what are we doing,” he remembers. “You know, we can't afford it if we call it recreation but you can afford it if you call it police,” despite the higher salaries police earned.

18 Ultimately, the officer contacted the fire department (who, it turned out, had been getting many calls for drug overdoses and small fires in the area) and had their inspectors confirm that the structures were illegal and unsafe, in order to put pressure on Southern Pacific Railroad, who owned the property, to clean it up. But as it turned out, Southern Pacific was responsive without any pressure from the fire inspectors, and it readily cleaned up the campsite at the officer’s request. The officer and the railroad police then followed up with patrols after having notified the “campers” of the various laws they were violating.

19 As the department reviewed a draft of this document, Sergeant Codey reported that calls from the Motel had dropped substantially, from about 20 per month through June of 1997, to 5 in July, 4 in August, and 3 in September.