Lancaster City has decided to take aggressive action against violent crime in their area by employing the “Reducing Violent Crime Associated with Overt Drug Markets: Focused Deterrence, Community Partners, and Data Driven Policing” system that originated in High Point, N.C.
The High Point Police Department crime analyst Eleazer D. Hunt, who was the master mind behind this innovative system, presented the workings and intricacies of this system. It will be installed in our Lancaster community on Monday night in our very own McComsey Auditorium.
This system was developed in High Point, N.C. after a 30 year fight with drugs in their community produced minimal results. The former law enforcement system was a six step process that had been in place for years, and is comparable to the law enforcement system in the majority of police departments around the country.
The first step to this former system was to sweep the streets with multiple crack downs. Although this resulted in hundreds of arrests during step two, the paper work was not always organized and assembled correctly.
This lack of thorough researching and assembling of paper work leads to many prosecutions of these offenders falling apart in the court house.
The third step is that the successful prosecutions will place some of the offenders in jail, but unfortunately this leads to two more problems, which is step four.
The first problem is that the offenders placed in jail do not always have life sentences, and often return to drug dealing once their sentence has been served.
The other problem is that the offenders whose cases fell apart in court may return to drug dealing, but now they are armed with better knowledge of the police system.
The fifth step involves the community starting to develop and harbor mistrust for the local police department due to the never ending drug raids of their houses, and the lack of actual arrests of the real criminals.
This feeling of mistrust serves as a hindrance to the efforts of the police department, with the community turning a blind eye to the neighborhood crime.
The last step has the police department restarting the process from step one again.
Crime analyst Eleazer D. Hunt compares the process to the definition of insanity, “Doing something over and over, getting the same results, but expecting different results.”
Luckily for Lancaster residents, Hunt grew tired of waiting for different results, and created a different and more successful system to battle violent crime.
The new system’s primary goal is to reduce violent crime, and to structure the police department to act on intelligence. This system can be divided into two different sections: Data Driven Analysis and Focused Deterrence.
Data Driven Analysis begins with the collection of a complete and very diverse range of data for a designated area. This data is plugged into several different computer programs that display the data in maps that are easy to comprehend. The most popular map is the Robbery Locations Density Map, which transposes the hot spots for robberies onto a map of population density. These maps can be used to track crime patterns and trends for strategic and tactical applications. Also, the police department has the opportunity to forecast events due to the past history in the designated area.
The police have just started to research all the capabilities of battling crime through the gathering of intelligence, but there are books already published about this form of police intelligence gathering. These books can be found under the title “GIS mapping of crimes.”
Focused Deterrence employs the data gathered with the Data Driven Analysis in an effort to improve upon the old law enforcement process. The High Point Police Department has grouped all of their units dealing with violence into one sub department, and has created a Violent Crimes Task Force whose sole purpose is to deal with violent crimes.
The new process involves six steps to crack down on violent crime in the area it is employed.
The first step involves the police force surveying all of the community members to discover who the prominent drug dealers are in the community. With the names provided to them through their data analysis and results from surveying the community, the police can assemble a list of suspects.
With this list of suspects, in their second step, the police review the names to see the current status of each, and separate them into three categories: Dangerous, Not Dangerous, and Already in Jail.
The suspects listed in the Dangerous category are raided and arrested as soon as possible, while the Not Dangerous suspects are given a new, unique opportunity.
Before this new opportunity can be offered to some of these offenders, step three must take place. In step three, the police hold a series of public meetings in the target area to identify the important members of the community, and in these meetings present their plan for installing this program. Step three is a crucial step in this new process, because as opposed to the old law enforcement program; this system is based on cooperation with the community.
Once the community’s support is established, letters are sent out to all the Not Dangerous suspects’ homes to begin step four. These letters invite the suspects and any close family members to attend a meeting with members of the community to hear their complaints.
At this meeting, they are offered the chance to stop drug dealing that night, and the members of the community will offer their resources and support in starting a new life. The suspects are warned that if they turn down this opportunity, they will be arrested the next day.
The trick that makes this work is that most dealers invited to the meeting had all ready sold drugs to an undercover cop, therefore, the police have all the necessary evidence to arrest them.
Step five occurs alongside step four with the police force spreading high profile fliers of drug dealers taken off the street, and making high visibility disruption of business. There is also an immediate response to drug complaints installed with this system.
The final step of this process is a follow through with all of the “drug dealers gone good.” There is usually a mentor assigned to each offender that has decided to start a new life who will help keep him or her on a straight path and provide support along the way. This process has already provided astonishing results in its place of origination.
Some of the visible signs of the success of this system are that kids are out playing again, and there is an increase in summer bible school attendance due to the renewed safety of the streets.
There is a permanent up beat change in the community’s demeanor on the streets and also in the people.
One specific example is one caller had a change of heart and decided to become a witness in a homicide case because she felt safe in her own community again. The statistics show that there is little extra cost to the existing Police Department budget, and that drug sales are down 25.5 percent.
This program is coming to Lancaster, so be prepared to rise up and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Lancaster Police against the violent crime in our community.