Armed with crime data, commanders in each of the Seattle Police Department's five precincts are identifying "hot spots" and directing patrol officers to get out of their cars in those areas, interact with residents and business owners to gain information, and deter crime and reduce fear by increasing their visibility.The one quote in the story that really caught my eye was this one:
"We typically work from a random patrol standpoint," he said. "Getting out of the patrol car is a cultural change for us."Seattle is probably not the only place where having police officers get out of their cars to interact with the citizenry is a "cultural change". However, it's very hard to meaningfully interact with people when you're whizzing by in an air conditioned patrol car at 30 miles per hour with the windows rolled up and the good times radio blasting out your favorite tunes. It's a shame that in many cities, police work has devolved to officers driving from call to call with little discretionary time to get out of their cars.
It's also unfortunate that "random patrol" is thought of as a crime fighting strategy by so many agencies. You might as well say that your plan is "driving around aimlessly hoping to stumble onto crime". The good thing is that most officers' "random patrol" is hardly random. They know what neighborhoods have crime problems and likely are spending more time there trying to reduce crime even if they haven't been directed from above.
As crime analysts we can help those officers and the agency brass understand your community's crime problems more clearly and help formalize a strategy that is anything but random. What are you doing to help direct your officers' discretionary time to where it's most likely to be effective?