How Mar used data to revamp PNP crime-fighting strategy

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 28 2014 03:09 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2014 11:09 PM

MANILA — With less than two years before the Aquino administration ends, Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas III unveiled an intensified program that seeks to revamp the way the Philippine National Police (PNP) does crime-fighting.

Roxas said more than providing additional crime-fighting tools and equipment for the national police force, he saw the need to reboot the way the PNP reports and gathers crime data.

The DILG chief described the PNP as a business that "needed a turnaround because sales were down and products were shoddy and unreliable."

He said something was amiss with the way crime incidents are being reported from the precinct level up to the police district level.

He said with the data in disarray, the PNP did not know where to start.

For this reason, the PNP, under the DILG chief, started to audit its crime incident reports to identify which police stations are manipulating crime figures and determine the real situation on the ground.

"I think it is important we start with data integrity," Roxas told ABS-CBN News executives in a roundtable discussion last November 26.

"Our first lecture in any management class is if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it."

Roxas said the audit experiment was done in the National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) since Metro Manila has the highest crime rate in the country. He said the audit hopes to turn the PNP's culture of "bara-bara, kanya-kanya, and ningas-cogon" to one that is programmatic, collaborative, and sustainable.

The audit process entails police personnel from the PNP - Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) going to NCR’s 38 police stations to validate whether the data sent to the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame are accurate.

The effects were immediate. The audit system, which started in June, saw four of the five police district directors in the National Capital Region being relieved after the rampant system of "point shaving" of crime figures was discovered.

Fifteen out of the NCRPO's 38 station commanders have also been sacked for submitting questionable crime figures.

"This is unprecedented in NCR. It’s not bata-bata. It is data-driven and performance- driven. The reliefs were made after four months na ginagawa ito. When there was no change in the outcomes, when there was continued point-shaving after audit, then there had to be leadership changes," Roxas said.

HOW IT WORKS

DIDM director Francisco Don Montenegro explained that DIDM personnel have been doing weekly audits of the crime figures in Metro Manila since June 2013 as reported in the blotter logbooks of police stations.

"We were not content with what the NCRPO submits to us. So the DIDM, sent audit teams to check if the data being sent to us were correct or not. These audits were done weekly," Montenegro said.

Roxas admitted the process of a police auditor having to comb through blotter logbooks - where crime victims and police officers jot down complaints - is a tedious and painstaking one.

He, however, said this is needed in order to clean up the system of crime reporting.

"Our audit team goes through the period and checks whether what is submitted weekly is what is reflected here (blotter logs)… If you don’t know where you are, you cannot say where you’re gonna go and how you’re gonna get there," he said.

Pointing to the massive logbook that is still commonplace in most police stations and precincts up to this day, Roxas said, "This cannot be. How do you extract, figure out the patterns? All the tools applicable in the digital world are just not available here. Worse, natatapunan ng kape ito, nasusunog. And there goes your entire record of the criminality."

WHY AUDIT?

Roxas said having a clearer picture of the crime situation - in the form of numbers - helps the PNP’s top leadership make decisions easier.

"That was one of the important starting points - to make sure we got the data accurately and the granularity of data is as micro as possible," he said.

"What would be at the precinct may stay at the precinct and not sent out to the station. Therefore, the station cannot send it out to the district level, and the district can’t send it out to NCRPO. Therefore, the NCRPO can’t send it to Crame."

Another wisdom behind the auditing of crime reports is the creation of maps identifying crime "hotspots" or locations where certain crimes usually happen.

"Now, instead of just sending people here, there and everywhere, you now have a tool that tells you where these things happen," he said.

Roxas said this audit system is currently being enforced at the station level, with the station commanders undergoing a weekly "revalida" for the evaluation of their performances. He said this system will soon be carried out at the precinct level.

"As they began to realize people can get relieved, lumalapit na ang agwat ng reported at validated. So the institution has responded,” he said.

Montenegro, meanwhile, said from the dismal 51% crime reporting when the experiment started, it is now at 94%.

OPLAN LAMBAT, SIBAT

Roxas said as a result of the intense audit process that was coupled with targeted, tailor-made police operations, the PNP saw a significant drop in the average number of crime incidents per week.

He said the PNP averaged 919 crime incidents a week when the experiment started in June 2013. This has dropped to 520 crimes for November 17 to 23 this year.

"These are audited. These are numbers not just pulled out of the sky,” he said.

“It is attainable. Abot-kamay, hindi lang abot-tingin. And the results are reliable, because there is a great causality between the inputs and the outcome.”

Roxas said under Operation Lambat, 1,300 policemen - some of whom were previously doing clerical or administrative works in Camp Crame - were deployed to the field to do patrol work.

These 1,300 cops were deployed to areas covered by 15 police stations which reported the highest number of crimes, as reflected in the PNP’s audited records. They were told to man police checkpoints, serve arrest warrants, and take part in PNP’s “Oplan Bakal/Sita”, “Oplan Katok”, and “Oplan Bulabog”.

Six-hundred more policemen were also tactically deployed and tasked to move from one district area to another.

Roxas said he hopes to see the PNP units shift from the “kanya-kanya” system (working in silos) to collaborating with each other.

He said since the PNP has numerous units and groups such as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Highway Patrol Group (HPG), Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF), and various police districts, “the entire weight and scale of the PNP was not being directed at going after the biggest and baddest criminals.”

DIFFERENT 'WANTED' LISTS

Roxas said these units lacked coordination with each other, even maintaining “most wanted lists” that have little to no similarity.

He said by applying the “whole of PNP approach,” the entire PNP force will go after a criminal even if he moves to another place in the Philippines.

CIDG director Benjamin Magalong said with the different PNP units finally having their objectives in sync, the PNP was able to neutralize 9 criminal gangs out of the 20 that it had initially identified as priorities.

“We should understand that criminals are moving. After doing the crimes, they get out of Metro Manila… These top criminal gangs, nag-aalisan na, nag-lalabasan na ng Metro Manila. Pumupunta kaming Visayas, Mindanao, lahat kami gumagalaw ngayon,” Magalong said.

Roxas said the systematic approach under Oplan Lambat and Sibat resulted in the arrest of 120 of the 440 most wanted criminals and 52 of 416 gang members in the past three months.

“This has led us to a virtuous cycle: more arrest, lesser crime, more trust, more citizens giving information,” he said.

UPGRADES

With the reforms in the crime reporting hopefully in place, Roxas said the PNP plans to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in NCR’s 38 police stations by January next year. These cameras will be pointed at the respective police desks of the police station.

A month after this, 100 high-tech real-time CCTV cameras will also be installed in identified crime hotspots. Through these CCTV cameras, police can immediately respond to a crime incident as soon as it happens.

Also in the pipeline is the establishment of the digital “Incident Registry Form” system which is targeted to replace the archaic blotter system.

The PNP is also expecting the arrival of 1,021 patrol jeeps; 5,711 firearms, and 52,271 radio communication units.

Roxas said the government is also working on establishing a reliable national emergency hotline that will involve not only the efforts of the police force, but of the fire department and medical rescue personnel as well.