Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Even College Towns Benefit From Data Driven Policing

The Kansas State Collegian has an article about how the Riley County, KS Police Department is using a data driven approach to reducing crime around the Kansas State University campus. From the piece:
As a part of this data-driven strategy, the RCPD has been collaborating with K-State in certain areas of crime analysis. 
L. Susan Williams, associate professor of sociology, and Don Kurtz, assistant professor of sociology, as well as a team of graduate and undergraduate students, have been working with officers on six years' worth of burglary statistics over the last year and a half. 
Team members help collect and analyze the data, then communicate with the RCPD on their findings. 
"The project also includes other components, and it is continuing to grow and change as RCPD develops additional initiatives, and as we are able to provide them with analyses on what is working best," Williams said. 
One surprising and encouraging aspect of the project that Williams has seen in the data is that "the new strategies work so quickly. Burglaries went down overall, even as population is increasing. That's very encouraging," Williams said.
There are a couple of things I think that are worth noting about this story. The first is, that no matter what kind of community a police agency patrols, they can always become more efficient by using their crime data to focus their operations. Whether you are a large police agency that is responsible for policing a metropolitan area or a small college town police force more accustomed to policing rowdy frat parties, your agency will benefit by using a data driven approach to providing police services.

The other is how more and more agencies are partnering with local colleges to help analyze their crime data. Colleges are often eager to get their students working on real life problems with real life data sets. This kind of partnership has benefits for everyone involved. In addition to augmenting the analytical capabilities of your agency, you are also exposing crime analysis to a group of folks who just might be the next generation of crime analysts.

What are you doing to make sure that the data is driving your agency's operations? Is there a local college in your area that might be interested in working on your community's crime problem?

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