A Behavioral Approach to Modus Operandi: Incident Form Completion and its Effect on Predictive analysis

Sarah Elizabeth Casella, Western Michigan University


This study examined the effects of task clarification, group feedback, and policy change on incident form completion by police officers. Participants included all sworn officers employed in the Operations Division by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. The task consisted of completing the modus operandi (MO) section of the incident reports for burglary, robbery and aggravated assault. The main dependent variable was the percentage of incident reports with MO form completion. The secondary dependent variable was quality of the MOs completed in the reports; more specifically the completeness of the MO section compared to the narrative and discrepancies between the narrative and the MO section. A multiple baseline design across crime type and shift (day, night, and power) was used. During baseline, across shifts, MO reporting for burglary was 27%, robbery was 6%, and aggravated assault was 5%. After task clarification and officer and sergeant group feedback were implemented for day and night shift, MO reporting for burglary increased to 70%, robbery increased to 27%, and aggravated assault increased to 12%. The sergeant report rejections only phase continued to maintain similar results for burglary and robbery, however aggravated assault MO form completion increased to 21%. During the general order condition, MO reporting continued to increase across all crime types with burglary MO reporting increasing to 79%, robbery increasing to 70% and aggravated assault increasing to 29%. Visual inspection of the data suggested that task clarification and group feedback, and sergeant report rejections are effective interventions to assist with increasing report writing. Also, as new policies are preparing to go into place, such interventions could be used to help employees with upcoming organizational changes. A case study presented along with this experiment also investigated the impact of the MOs reported by using them to track a certain crime pattern.