Monday, April 23, 2012

More Than Just Neighborhood Watch, How About A Neighborhood Crime Analyst?

I've long believed that the key to being successful in reducing crime in the community you serve is the engagement of the citizens you serve in your efforts. It takes more than just a suitably motivated offender for a crime to occur. It also takes a place and a potential victim. This is the reason the Crime Triangle is used to help understand why crime occurs.

Police have historically focused their attentions on dealing with the likely offenders through detecting, arresting and incarcerating criminals. But the Crime Triangle theory demonstrates that it doesn't really matter which side of the triangle you dismantle to stop a crime from occurring. If you can convince potential victims to protect themselves from criminals by what is often called "increasing guardianship" then you will prevent a crime from occurring just as you would by locking up an offender.

Police have often encouraged members of the communities they serve to participate in crime prevention programs or neighborhood watch programs. When properly utilized, these programs can make communities safer.

The Austin American Statesman had a piece this weekend about a man in Austin who has taken this type of engagement to a new level by becoming a neighborhood crime analyst in his community and provide crime stats and other data via his online website.
"My core value is: Working together, let's make Austin the safest city in the nation," said Darby, 61. He said the mission is audacious but he hopes his website encourages community policing.
Darby said his database is a modest version of Compstat, a widely copied program pioneered by the New York Police Department in the 1990s that uses crime-mapping software to pinpoint problem areas and manage law enforcement strategies.
In the community where I work, we offer this kind of data through our online crime mapping service RAIDS Online. Interested members of our community can see an up to date map of where crimes were reported, run their own crime stats and even sign up for alerts. An informed citizen is much more likely to get involved in reducing crime by increasing guardianship over themselves and their neighborhood.

What is your agency doing to encourage citizens to become involved in dismantling the crime triangle?


  1. This is something I developed in 2000 and have been doing ever since. I took training offered by Steve Gottlieb's company and now teach the concept to our COP and NW groups along with Crime Prevention Officers. I taught the program at the Texas Crime Prevention's Annual Meetings for several years.
    Depending on the way the program is handled, it is very effective. In fact, our program was able to assist our PD in arresting several BMV suspects. This was done based on a day,date,time, and location of next hit projection for our Crime Response Team. I wish more groups would do this.

  2. Crimestopper, Thanks for the insight!

  3. OK, we have an active NW org in our section of the city and are looking for our next step/project. We are in CA on Monterey Bay. Where, how do we start? I just did a RAID request as my city is currently not covered.

  4. Dwight, I am assuming that you are a civilian and not an employee of your police department. If so, have you approached your agency and asked how you can get more involved in helping? Do they offer a Citizen's Police Academy? It's a great way to learn more about your local police department. At my agency, our CPA grads often volunteer at the department, or assist with other projects.


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