Measuring Performance within Anti-Gang Task Forces in Texas

Laura Jamison

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Texas Anti-Gang Task Forces (TAGs) were initiated by the state of Texas in 2013 to combine law enforcement efforts to counter criminal activities posed by violent gangs. The relationship between violent gangs and Mexican drug cartels is a significant problem in Texas, so and the mere existence of the six TAG centers has been a positive first step toward the problem. Since the six TAG centers are relatively new to Texas, there has not been an established process for measuring the success for the work being conducted. It is unclear what the strategy, goals, or objectives are for the TAG operational teams working against these gangs.

The purpose of this thesis is to answer what is a good design for performance management and goal setting mechanism for the TAGs and how that might be improved in the state of Texas, specifically to improve collaboration and overall performance.

I first conducted an examination of the TAG mission, structure, organization, processes, and outcomes. There is no system or requirement to measure performance, aside from criminal statistics, nor even a clear definition of success; these gaps have left the TAGs themselves with no reliable sense of whether or to what extent they have effected change in the gang or cartel landscapes. Research shows these weaknesses are not unusual in multi-agency task forces, however, it can be improved if leadership is willing.

I then conducted an analysis of performance measurement models and frameworks inside both law enforcement and business sectors. I explored the objectives and key results (OKRs) framework as well as the logic model.

This thesis recommends pivoting away from the current system of measuring performance by reporting crime statistics on a quarterly basis, and instead use a logic model to establish unified goals and objectives based on a strategy within each TAG center. The logic model forces the TAG teams to consider their outcomes and impact before actions are planned. Once a goal is established, the teams will decide on how to action those goals. This process should be transparent for individual agencies so that all TAG personnel understand their roles, plan strategies and tactics, and demonstrate alignment with the overall TAG mission. This will enable stakeholders, sponsors, policy-makers, and citizens to assess the value and effectiveness of the TAGs.

Aside from these recommendations, implementation will need to be carefully structured using CJD as the lead entity, as the funding and approval starts with them. There needs to be a leadership component that ensures the TAGs are adhering to policies and are accountable for actions. The implementation phase could take two years and within the first year, CJD and TAG administrators must be convinced that these models are essential and desirable. There is always resistance to change, therefore, it is important that the executive boards for each TAG be included early in the process. Since the executive boards are made up of representatives from each law enforcement agency, they will be the best group to identify problems in implementation. Their endorsement of the new approaches is critical for success.

 

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