Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Better Policing

In a variation of broken windows policing, this technique also seems to reduce crime, as reported by The Atlantic Cities.

An excerpt.

“Partnering with criminologists from George Mason University, a team led by Sacramento Police Sergeant Renée Mitchell identified 42 “hotspots”—street corners that attracted the highest percentages of violent crime in California’s second most violent city.

“As part of a 90-day study conducted between February and May this year, Mitchell and her team assigned officers to visit a randomized rotation of three or four of these hotspots for 12 to 16 minutes apiece during shifts. That meant police would inhabit Sacramento’s most dangerous corners about every two hours. The officers were told to be “highly visible” during these visits—to step outside patrol cars, to talk with people.

“This was a change for Sacramento police. It focused on places to target rather than specific crimes, and relied on data rather than police instinct. The results, Mitchell says, were striking.

“Part I” crimes—which include violent offenses such as murder, rape and robbery, as well as property crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft—decreased by 25 percent in these hotspots. Calls for service decreased by nearly 8 percent. And these successes cost the city only $75,000, Mitchell says, less than one percent of the Sacramento Police Department’s $116 million annual budget this year.

“We’ve known for a long time that we were going to have to find ways to police more efficiently,” she says. “Now we know we can do that without a spike in crime.”

“Policing layoffs and corresponding public safety concerns are seemingly everywhere. Sacramento took a hit in June when this year’s budget funded 167 fewer police jobs than it did last year. Meanwhile, Oakland—California’s most violent city – has eliminated 178 police jobs since 2008. And on the East Coast, Camden, New Jersey, the most prominent U.S. example of a high-crime city forced into major police cuts recently, eliminated half its force in January. Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, and even Toronto lately have similar concerns.”