Officers tout merits of data-driven policing at forum

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Six percent of a community’s criminals are responsible for about 60 percent of its crime.

If police can remove those criminals from the streets, they can significantly reduce and prevent crime, speakers said Thursday at a One Region Public Safety Committee luncheon at the Radisson Hotel.

The challenge for region law enforcement officials is identifying those criminals using data and intelligence that’s available to them, officials said.

Data-driven policing combines crime mapping with intelligence about criminals, said Capt. Michael Troendle, of the Toledo (Ohio) Police Department. The philosophy puts the focus on “prolific and serious offenders.”

“If you can touch that small group, you can reduce crime,” Troendle said.

Chuck Porucznik, executive director of Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, said region probation and parole offices might be good place to start gathering data on criminal offenders.

The Lake County HIDTA could help spearhead such an effort because it already acts as a clearinghouse for police agencies in Lake and Porter counties, he said.

Toledo police work with probation and parole officers in several areas, Troendle said.

“They have a lot of valid data,” he said.

Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance’s department already has partnered with the Lake County Probation Department, The Times in Munster reported ( ). Officers assist probation staff by visiting probationers monthly.

“We could take it further,” Mance said.

Mance suggested to the group that probation and parole officials be invited to a future committee meeting.

Mike Reade, a public safety specialist for IBM, explained how his company can help analyze personal information and present it in one format for police to use in real time.

Reade talked about the Miami-Dade Police Department, where they analyzed about 20 unsolved robberies, created a list of possible offenders based on suspect descriptions and crime patterns, and arrested the fifth person on that list after he confessed to all of the robberies.

Since its reorganization in 2011 to implement data-driven policing, the Toledo Police Department has seen a 44 percent reduction in burglaries, and 18 percent reduction in robberies and a 15 percent reduction in shootings, Troendle said.

The philosophy offers police agencies the best bang for their buck, Troendle said.

“It’s not about random patrols,” he said. “Research shows random patrols do not work.”

However, shifting to data-driven policing isn’t easy, he said. There will always be some detractors. Department leaders must embrace the philosophy to achieve success, he said.

“When it comes to a police department, there’s two things cops hate the most,” Troendle said. “No. 1 is change, and No. 2 is how it’s being done now.”

The philosophy is becoming more accepted as more younger officers are hired, he said.

About 20 law enforcement agencies belong to the Northwest Indiana Public Safety Data Consortium, a privately funded shared mapping system that began in 2012 and is administered by Indiana University Northwest.

Many local law enforcement leaders attribute reduced crime rates in recent years to their work with IUN.

IUN assistant professor Joseph Ferrandino said Thursday local police could use their data in a system like Toledo’s.

One major drawback is the cost, Ferrandino said. IBM’s services could run into the millions of dollars, Reade said.

Ferrandino said local police could consider purchasing specific elements of the technology at lower prices to meet their needs.

Local officials all have a role to play in expanding data-driven policing in Northwest Indiana, he said.

“The seeds have been planted here,” Ferrandino said. “They just need to keep putting water and sun on it.”


Information from: The Times,


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