Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chicago Police Do More with Less

The City of Chicago is down 800 police officers. The sputtering economy has had an impact on the city's finances and the police department has not been spared the ill effect of dwindling resources. The understaffed Chicago police department now enters July, typically the deadliest month of the year, with less manpower and declining firepower.

What the police do have on their side is some brainpower. According to the Chicago Tribune, the police are revamping their crime fighting strategies. "We were looking for a new way of doing business," said Police Superintendent Jody Weis. "We are down some officers, yet we have to provide the best service."

Weis recently restructured how the department deploys officers to hot spots — in part a response to the fact that the department has been decimated by retirement and a stalled hiring process.

The Tribune reported that officers working in district offices and at headquarters have been sent to the streets to increase patrols. Police have added officers to special units that swarm neighborhoods when crime breaks out. And officers' shift start times were adjusted according to the most violent times.

The department's most significant undertaking, is the manner in which police administrators deploy officers. Police, in Chicago, are increasingly trying to predict where crime is likely to occur and to flood those hot spots with additional police personel.

Hot spots are areas within a city or community where there is a higher likelihood that criminal activity is going to take place. Crime does not occur evenly throughout a community. With limited crime fighting resources it would be counterproductive to try and spread law enforcement resources thinly across a entire community. Analyze the data, determine where the crime hot spots are located, and assign a more significant presence in those spots.

Arthur Lurigio, professor of psychology and criminal justice at Loyola University, told the Tribune, sending extra resources to hot spots — especially when done based on crime stats and data — is the correct strategy.

To read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-summer-violence-20100703,0,2944636.story?page=2

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