Inter-agency cooperation is working with other agencies and providing the needed assistance to achieve common goals. Each agency requires needed information and data in a timely manner, adequate support to achieve agency-specific objectives contributing towards common goals, and effective training programs to develop skills and appropriately apply tools to enhance operations. Cooperation among agencies allows each to streamline operations, address priority issues, manage and overcome obstacles, promote teamwork, and demonstrate agency commitment to improving case outcomes.
Communication as used here is the timely exchange of information about defendants, offenders and cases to inform decision-making at all levels of the system. It also refers to the use of electronic data exchange among agencies. Good communication can ensure impaired driving offenders are correctly identified as first or repeat DWI offenders, quality evidence is appropriately gathered, documented, and presented in court to obtain convictions of guilty offenders. Moreover, it also ensures sentences imposed by the court are targeted to meet the individual needs of offenders and promote long-term risk reduction, and offenders are effectively monitored to protect the public and discourage future offending by supporting sustainable changes in behavior.
The lack of cooperation and communication can hinder the identification of offenders and hamper decision-making within the system, which can lead to inappropriate sanctions for offenders and high levels of recidivism. On a larger scale, this gap can impede the effectiveness and efficiency of the system for dealing with impaired drivers and enable persistent offenders to slip through the cracks, avoiding the very sanctions and programs put in place to protect the public and change behaviour. Common barriers to improving cooperation and communication that may be encountered include:
Due to isolated missions and practices, agencies are often unaware of how their policies and practices contribute to successful or failed outcomes for other parts of the system. By working beyond agency borders, administrators should form partnerships leading to shared missions, increased funding, improved training, and new, improved strategies and approaches for addressing the impaired driving problem.