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An Assessment of Rochester Police Department’s Strategic Plan
Assessment of any formal plan (strategic or otherwise) is necessary in order to ensure that said plan is effective and moving the organization in the proposed direction. While there are several methods used to assess strategic plans, it is important to investigate the contents of the plan itself to confirm that the necessary components of said plan are present. In this assessment, the author will evaluate the strategic plan implemented by Rochester, New York’s police department. Using a series of acceptable traits common to effective strategic plans, the author will appraise the content, structure, and parameters defined in this department’s plan. It must be stated that given the lack of data relating to the effectiveness of the plan, this assessments will not gauge the success or failure of the implementation.
An Assessment of Rochester Police Department’s Strategic Plan
In order for an organization (public or private) to progress in a positive direction, there needs to be a series of well-defined goals as well as distinct methods with which to attain them. However, the path to attaining said goals may have an obstruction, or series of obstructions, that will require action to be taken so that achievement can be attained. One effective method to plot this path to success is by implementing a strategic plan. A strategic plan is defined as blueprint of an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and outlines strategies and directions of that organization. It is designed to strengthen the positive attributes of the organization while still addressing areas that require improvement, and setting goals for an assigned amount of time (Bryson, 2004). Most decision makers within an organization fail to anticipate problems because when “things are going well, they can manage without it, and when things are going badly, it is too late to see beyond the ends of their noses” (Godet, 2000).
Mere implementation, however, is only the initial step in realizing goals. It is imperative that the plan is assessed for effectiveness and revised in order to ensure that proper paths are taken and issues within the plan are addressed and resolved. Before one can assess a plan, what is considered as acceptable form and content needs to be addressed so the assessor has a basis for comparison.
Strategic plans, generally speaking, are comprised of several sections designed to create an operating strategy within an organization, set goals, develop a clear and understandable foundation for the decision making process, solve major organizational complications, improve the performance of the members, effectively deal with ever-changing dynamic of society and its impact on the organization, and to build cooperation, coordination, and communication between all functions (and individuals) of the organization (Bryson, 1988). With that said, the plan has sections that are designed to cover the above.
For a strategic plan to be complete there needs to be certain topics covered. To begin, the plan needs to have a summary of who has organized and directed the processes for the composition of the plan. That summary should include a brief description of the purpose of the plan, who was involved in the creation, and who the stakeholders are. A stakeholder is an individual or group of individuals who will be directly affected by the results of the strategic plans implementation (Bryson, 1988). Once the basis of the plan has been laid and the participants identified, the organization’s clearly specified vision and mission statement should be detailed. Vision relates to the motivation (in the case of a strategic plan, motivation relates to the achievement of goals) for the organization and describes the potential for the future. Mission statements are used to describe the effort required to achieve the vision. It is the primary purpose of the organizations being and defines what the organization does and who it serves. There also should contain a strategy regarding how best to implement the plan so that there can be some direction as to how to effect the proposals. Before goals can be established, it is essential to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of the organization. This is where information gathered, both internally and externally, that relates to the organization is assessed about the SWOT and methods to address negative issues are proposed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). It is important to identify the SWOT because the plan, if executed properly, will build on the strengths using the opportunities to minimize the threats and weaknesses (Bryson, 1988). Once this has been established, a set of goals can be fashioned. There needs to be a set of well-defined goals, separated into categories if necessary, accompanied with detailed information relating to the goals. That detailed information needs to include what the goals is, who is responsible to facilitate the process towards goal attainment, how to attain the goal and what resources are required, a time frame to attain the goal and some method of evaluation to ensure that the goal have been reached effectively and efficiently. Finally, there needs to be some approach to establish whether or not the strategies are effecting change and if so, is that change positive and in line with the strategic plan.
In their most recent edition, the Rochester Police Department (RPD) set out to “refresh” the process by which they have previously created a strategic plan. Due to varying degrees of success, the Chief of the department realized that a new approach to the plan needed to be taken, resulting in the current form of the plan.
The plan begins with a brief introduction that covers the reasoning for the plan, individuals and stakeholders engaged with the construction of the plan, background information about previous plans, and a brief description of the department itself. The introduction also diagrams the content of the plan with statements explaining the reasons for its inclusion. The introduction was not excessively long, but was clearly constructed and unambiguous with regard to the intent of the plan.
The next section of the plan defines the mission and vision of the department. Before those were explained, the authors laid out some basic assumptions necessary for the plan to be effective. Those assumptions include the financial position of the City, the changing social factors, as well as economic efforts being taken by the city (Rochester Police Department, 2013). The vision of the department was easy to comprehend, describing the motivation for the department as well as possible future direction. The mission, too, was clear and detailed the effort that will be required by the members of the department in their quest to fulfil the vision.
The plan also explained that it was built on the values which the department sees as a means to guide and motivate their membership. Those values include professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication, excellence, service, teamwork, and collaboration (Rochester police department, 2013). The value statement was followed by a SWOT assessment which was detailed in a chart that described each point clearly. Further, each point was then color-coded to represent which of the goal themes (explained later in this assessment) it relates to.
The authors then described the strategy that it will use as a basis for the goals it has set. Called a relationship-building strategy, it is believed that this will produce a higher level of trust from the members of the community, which is the back bone of cooperation between the police and community for aiding in successful police work (Rochester Police Department, 2013).
The goal themes were stated next (Planning & Implementation, People & Workforce Development, Community Engagement & Relations, Communications: Internal & External, Technology: traditional & emerging) and were subsequently broken down and individual goals were distributed under each theme. Averaging three goals per theme, each goal has an owner (either the Chief or one of the two Deputy Chiefs responsible for seeing the goal to achievement) assigned to it as well as what the expected result is (action) and how to achieve said result (success metric). The goals, actions and success metrics were clearly defined and included some sort of evaluation tool to measure the success or failure of meeting the goal.
After the goals were established, a well-defined evaluation document was attached so that the progress of each goal could be tracked requiring specific dates, actions taken and progress towards completion. The evaluation tool documents the advancement towards the goal while identifying the goal owner and current status of each action.
While there are numerous methods that can be used to assess a strategic plan, the author felt that Bryson (1988) had the most comprehensive criteria. The strategic plan generated by the Rochester Police Department was clear in its design, language and methods required to complete the proposed goals. The system used to create the plan was well thought out and utilized an ample cross-section of interested individuals to get different perspectives on what the goals of the department should be. Overall, Rochester’s blueprint is a good example of how other agencies can design an effective and thorough strategic plan that can be done utilizing resources readily available.
Bryson, J. M. (1988). A strategic planning process for public and non-profit organizations. Long Range Planning, 21(1), 73-81.
Bryson, J.M. (2004). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. 3rd edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Using evaluation to improve programs strategic planning. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health Web site. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/CSHP/.
Godet, M. (2000). The art of scenarios and strategic planning: tools and pitfalls. Technological forecasting and social change, 65(1), 3-22.
Rochester Police Department. (2013). Strategic Plan. City of Rochester Police Department. Retrieved from http://www.rochesterpd.org