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Setting the Course: Strategic Planning as the Key to Police Agency Success

January 21, 2024

Chief David Steffen (ret.)


Every day we make a journey of sorts. It may be a simple commute to our place of employment, education, recreation, or a multitude of destinations. No matter how long or how short the journey, all share common characteristics. These include the starting point, route of travel, passing trip mileposts, external impacts, what are the transportation options available, and how can we best arrive at the place of our choosing. These day-to-day activities become so routine, that it is easy to overlook (or completely take for granted) the importance of the process of getting from point “A” to Point “B.”


Police organizations are not unlike any high-performing corporate or business entity. They need a roadmap to measure success, accountability, and organizational performance. The organizational strategic plan is the tool that provides the means to accomplish this critical function in high performing police agencies. To develop this plan agency executives and key stakeholders must make determinations concerning where the organization is today, and what is our vision of the optimum agency position for the future. Many police agencies overlook or minimize this vital function as they struggle to perform within the environment of declining agency staffing, recruitment challenges, budgetary constraints, and internal and external impacts. Adoption of a strategic plan should never overlook the importance of effective police policy directives and the positive impacts of agency accreditation in the attainment of organizational objectives and goals.


While developing an effective strategic plan the adoption of agency-appropriate objectives and goals is key to the overall success of the plan. Avoidance of interchangeable use of these terms as synonyms must be emphasized. An objective is a specific milestone or benchmark on the pathway to meeting the overall goal. The most desired organizational position within the framework of the agency's mission statement at some point in the future is a goal. Plans should be developed within the perspective of time, typically on a two-year, five-year, ten-year, and beyond trajectory.


"Police organizations are not unlike any high-performing corporate or business entity. They need a roadmap to measure success, accountability, and organizational performance. The organizational strategic plan is the tool that provides the means to accomplish this critical function in high performing police agencies."

The establishment of effective measurable objectives and achievement timelines allows agency stakeholders the capability to evaluate the progress of the agency in accomplishing these tasks as they relate to the agency police mission. The development of key reporting metrics is critical to the success or failure of the plan. Evaluation of performance in meeting expectations within the plan should be memorialized in reporting on a regular basis. This provides a basis for comparative analysis of agency progress over time and assists in the identification of unrealistic or changeable objectives. Leaders are aware that the expectation of adherence to best professional practices and the ability to provide proof of this practice is our best available risk management tool.


While strategic planning provides for increased stability, fiscal controls, communication, and conveying expectations internally and externally pertaining to the agency, the development of a plan may be simply beyond the reach of small to mid-sized agencies. This does not mean that the adoption of a plan be abandoned since assistance is available from private and public resources.



Elevate Your Strategic Planning with Aspirant Consulting Group


In the realm of strategic development and execution, Aspirant Consulting Group stands as a pivotal partner for organizations aiming to achieve their goals with precision and innovation. Our team specializes in crafting bespoke strategic plans that resonate with your unique vision and operational needs.


At Aspirant Consulting Group, we understand that a successful strategy is more than a well-crafted document. It’s a dynamic blueprint that drives your organization toward measurable success and sustainable growth. Our consultants, equipped with extensive experience and cutting-edge tools, are committed to transforming your strategic goals into tangible results.


Whether you’re navigating complex challenges, seeking to expand your reach, or aiming to enhance operational efficiency, we’re here to guide your journey. Our approach is collaborative, adaptive, and tailored to align with your specific objectives and industry dynamics.


Embrace the opportunity to redefine your organizational trajectory with Aspirant Consulting Group. Contact us to discover how our strategic planning expertise can propel your organization to new heights of success.


Chief David Steffen, retiring in 2023, concluded a distinguished four-decade career in law enforcement. He led the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department for 12 years, following a 27-year tenure with the Northern York County Regional Police Department. Renowned for his expertise in advanced forensics and investigating major crimes, including a high-profile serial killer case, Chief Steffen played a crucial role in establishing and guiding the NLCRPD, emphasizing technological advancement and professional development. His extensive educational background includes studies in criminal justice and advanced police training. A respected leader, Chief Steffen held key positions in various police associations and contributed significantly to law enforcement policy and reform initiatives.


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