Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Memphis Uses Computer Model to CRUSH Crime

Memphis endured 28.8-percent fewer crimes during the first six months of 2010, compared with the same period in 2006. Overall crime dipped from 33,160 reported incidents to 23,598.

Why compare the first half of this year to 2006? In 2006, Memphis launched an evidence-based crime analysis computer model called Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History (CRUSH).

The department's Blue CRUSH initiative uses a daily analysis of computer data to define the city's crime "hot spots" so management know exactly where to put their manpower.

The police department Director Larry Goodwin teamed with University of Memphis criminologist Richard Janikowski to help develop Blue CRUSH several years ago. They continually study ways to improve the system.

Godwin told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that he believes the innovative business model has played a key role in reducing crime. He also points to organizational changes since 2005, including sending officers deep under cover to infiltrate gangs and drug rings; creating a felony assault unit to investigate shootings, stabbings and severe beatings; and getting officers reliable equipment.

"Blue CRUSH is about putting police in the right place on the right day at the right time and you'll either prevent crime or catch someone committing a crime," Janikowski told the Commercial Appeal.

Traditionally, crime data has been analyzed monthly -- not daily -- meaning much of the information was stale by the time it reached the command staff, and then trickled down to the officers on the street.

Also, crime trends were tracked by wards, which are large areas. Blue CRUSH allows police to pinpoint their troubled areas down to the block, Goodwin told the Commercial Appeal.

Blue Crush is another example, not unlike the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA that have been profiled on this blog, of law enforcement agencies taking advantage of sophisticated evidence-based practices to fight crime.

The success of evidence-based practices are not going unnoticed. The Crime Report recently cited the efforts of U.S. House of Representatives' Crime Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott who, in a recent address, said that what works in fighting crime “are not emotion-based, but evidence-based, practices. So, even in the face of the political games that are being played in Congress and the state legislatures, it is critical for you to remain committed to learning, implementing, and developing practices that are based in what actually works, and not what just sounds good.”

He said studies have shown that on average, evidenced-based prevention and intervention programs save about $5 for every $1 dollar spent. That sound like smart policing in tough economic times.

To read more: http://www.blogger.com/Blue%20Crush

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