Innovation in Public Safety

Examples and approaches for Kata (Lean Strategy), Continuous Improvement/Innovation and/or Human-Centered Design in highly regulated departments (public safety, sheriff, etc).


Prepared By: Stephanie Zamora and Ben Williams

Executive Summary & Analysis (Key Points) 

Local governments have been employing Lean Six Sigma to improve processes and service since the early 2000s. Local governments today must dedicate resources to improving efficiencies in departments related to social climate issues, technology, and community leadership. Stephanie Zamora found that most governments that do employ improvement projects do so through the Lean Six Sigma Strategy. Little or no relevant information was regarding the use of Human-Centered Design and Continuous Improvement by highly-regulated departments. Ben Williams identified Microsoft Visio as a tool utilized by Arizona local governments for process mapping.  

Research Findings 

Lean Strategy 

Newport News City Police Dept, Virginia 

  • “Lean Thinking for Quicker Police Emergency Response Time” 

  • The Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) led a process improvement project (kaizen) with the New News City Police Department following the Lean Strategy. Specifically, the Newport News City Council wanted to implement a better booking process that would save them time that may be better spent on patrol. During their process improvement project,  LEI identified key actors in the process (including the county sheriff and county magistrate), surveyed police officers for their opinions and experiences with the booking process, and visited the actual booking center before making their recommendations. Through this kaizen event, Newport News Police Dept. freed up over 3,000 hours of police time.  

Ocala Police Department, Florida  

  • “The Ocala Police Department serves the City of Ocala, located in North Central Florida. The Department has 180 sworn Officers and approximately 100 full and part-time civilian employees.”  

  • This study was conducted by Captain Robin Ford who headed the Office of Professional Standards within the Ocala Police Department in Florida. Ford surveyed 12 department heads within the police department and asked them the following 

  • Identify processes which were cumbersome and labor intensive and weaknesses in the area of customer service 

  • Identify processes that are held up due to waiting on other processes, waste, and redundancy.  

  •  Identify the complaint most often received from the public about the services they provide.  

  • The surveys found that the department heads identified 23 processes and several public complaints  that were wasteful in terms of time and did not yield satisfaction from their constituency. The main finding was that most of these gaps in efficiencies had to do with processes and not that actual labor police offerces must perform (arrests, booking, writing affidavits, etc). Some of the processes identified as labor and time consuming where software maintenance, purchasing, orientation, and pay roll input to name a few.  

  • Key takeaways to consider implementing  

  • Survey leadership and staff to understand gaps in efficiency  

  • Map processes deemed wasteful, redundant, time inefficient  

  • Follow breakthrough process: recognize, define, measure, analyze, improve, control, standardize, integrate  

  • Harry & Schroder 2000 “Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations”  

City of Fort Wayne, Indiana 

  • This city boasts its successes using the Six Sigma strategy. The city has enjoyed a savings of over $10M by improving processes. The main areas the City of Fort Wayne has focused on is communications, hiring, and public works. Fort Wayne has struggled, however, to get buy in from highly regulated departments such as their police and fire departments which its Mayor chalked up the agencies hierarchical nature and its resistance to change. Captain Robin Ford cites this in her above mentions reports where she argues that law enforcement benefits from the methodology of Lean and Six Sigma. 

County Governments Employing Lean Six Sigma 

Brevard County, FL 

  • Highly Regulated Departments employing Lean Six Sigma 

  • County Inspections: Implementing online inspection requests, permit applications, and contractor licensing renewals. The county has saved over 2,000 hours.  

  • Fire Rescue: Fleet Maintenance, Patient Triage Process 

  • Human Resources: Hiring, Worker’s Comp Refunds,  

  • Emergency Management: Emergency Shelter Worker Program  

  • Planning & Development: Building permit application, site construction, development application  

  • Central Services: Contract review, countywide purchasing  

  • Other departments using Lean Six Sigma 

  • Natural Resources 

  • Housing & Human Services 

  • Parks & Recreation  

  • Public Works  

Ventura County, CA:

“The Program will seek to establish an ongoing environment and culture where County executives, managers and staff are encouraged and have easy access to the skill sets and tools to pursuer service excellence, continuous improvement and resulting cost reductions.” 

Tools and Instructions to create a Simple Process Map 

  • We contacted Peoria Management Intern Trey Nilles, Mesa Management Associate Mikayla Cutlip, and Chandler Fire Chief Val Gale who informed us of their use of Microsoft Visio  

  • Chandler Fire Chief Gale says fire departments nationally are lagging in the use of technology. As mentioned by Captain Ford’s study, highly regulated departments such as fire and police can be resistant to change. According to the Fire Chief, fire is is a very traditional organization. Until recently, his department was using only PowerPoint to map.  

  • Please visit these Microsoft Visio resources on Six Sigma Mapping 

  • Ms. Cutlip at City of Mesa says their processes are based in Lean Six Sigma and are learned via demonstration/direction.   

  • Direction and Insight on Process Mapping 



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