Cities are constantly looking for ways to reduce crime rates, and lately that means turning to big data to help pinpoint problem areas.
The Columbus Police Department in South Carolina is using a wide array of data – police reports, street information, observation by officers and witness statements – to determine where crime is most likely to occur, helping them allocate funds and distribute their police force resources, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
“If you know that a particular area is experiencing a certain type of criminal activity during a certain time of the day, then you can start narrowing down that crime type,” Columbus Police Sgt. Roderick Graham told the news source. “You’re filtering down, pinpointing.”
The new strategy is known as “intelligence-led policing,” and it has already begun helping reduce the crime rate in the area.
“Research shows that if you can respond to an area, to a call, within three minutes, the possibility of apprehension is greatly increased,” he said. “Individuals that were involved in crime in that community, they know that we have a set of officers that are not constantly tied up in calls and are free to respond to those areas.”
Essentially, the new methodology streamlines communication between officers. Where old methods would use things like paper documents to update officers, a new record management system digitizes that information, updating it immediately for officers.
Chief Ricky Boren told the news source that if a car is stolen on the north side of the city, dispatch will be able to send pictures and more exact information to help officers on the south side be more aware of the situation.
Other helpful tools for officers
Aside from the improved methods that come along with intelligence-led policing, officers find help both inside and outside the field with secure storage solutions.
Unfortunately, police gear getting stolen is an all-to-common occurrence. In February, two men, Jesse Crawford and Craig Butcher, purchased a storage unit at Marina U-Store in California, only to discover that they had just bought thousands of dollars in stolen police equipment, according to the Monterey Herald. Upon finding out the nature of the contents in the storage locker, Crawford and Butcher called the police. Marina police officers arrived on scene to take back the gear, which included:
- Police reports and photographs
- Radio equipment
- Expandable batons
- Urine-test kits
- A Code-3 police light
- Retro detective lights
“Chalk it up as a loss, I guess,” Crawford told the news source. “But it’s better to get the stuff back where it belongs than to have something we’re not supposed to have. We might still have enough left (from the locker) to break even, or even make a little bit, which, for us, is the name of the game.”
Whether it’s on or off the job, police officers looking to better secure their gear are encouraged to purchase high-quality products that will keep their items safe and sound, like lockboxes and storage safes. These products keep gear secure but accessible.