Pillar 4: Community Policing and Crime Reduction
By Mary O’Connor
Assistant Chief (retired), Tampa PD
Subject Matter Expert, NC4 Street Smart®
In Pillar 4, “Community Policing and Crime Reduction,” the task force emphasizes the importance of the collaboration between the community and the police for a variety of benefits. In this discussion, community policing is defined by three key features: community partnerships, problem-solving, and organizational transformation. Community policing and crime reduction are key to citizens’ satisfaction with the police that serve them. This satisfaction leads to police legitimacy and trust. The more trust the citizens have in their police agencies, the greater the likelihood that positive relationships and increased communication will form. The problem-solving process is considered the “tactical” element of community policing. In other words, in collaboration with the community, the police need to be prioritizing problems that plague the community and developing solutions that will address those problems. Organizational transformation refers to full organizational commitment and a philosophical change as it relates to engaging citizens in community collaboration and problem-solving together.
In 2017, some citizens in Fulton County, Georgia became victims to criminal activity that became known as “slider” crimes. Victims would be standing outside their running vehicle at a gas station, and while placing the gas nozzle back on the pump, a suspect would “slide” into the driver’s seat and steal the vehicle. This crime quickly became the issue that plagued the community and required priority problem- solving. Through a collaborative process using NC4 Street Smart®, the police worked with the community to identify common locations that these stolen vehicles were left, and to identify the repeat offenders who stole the vehicles. Additionally, Street Smart’s visual mapping feature assisted in the reduction of this crime. Officers were able to visualize in real-time the layers of the locations of the thefts, the recoveries of the vehicles, and the addresses of the repeat offenders. As a result, arrests were made quickly, and victims were reunited with their vehicles. In one year, “slider” crimes were reduced by 40% in Fulton County.
Street Smart is a powerful collaborative crime-fighting and communication tool that fully supports this pillar and the recommendations for police agencies that are described in it. One element that is discussed in this pillar in detail is training the organization, and how essential training is for successful implementation of community-oriented policing. This training is necessary for officers to take ownership of the area that they patrol and possess a sense of responsibility for what problems within that area need to be addressed. We at NC4 call this “Zownership,” where officers own their zone, or area of responsibility based on crime, offenders and problems. The four cornerstones of Street Smart provide officers/deputies, analysts, detectives, and supervisors with the information and decision support they need to own their zone.
Problem-solving through collaboration with the communities they serve greatly assists law enforcement with crime reduction efforts. All four cornerstones of Street Smart provide officers with increased communication flow between sectors, zones, shifts, and cycles. This real-time communication loop keeps officers informed, safe, and better equipped to reduce crime in their communities and keep citizens free from victimization. That’s genuine community policing.
The author of this blog series, Mary O'Connor, is a recently retired Assistant Chief from the Tampa Police Department (TPD). She spent 20 years with the TPD working her way through the ranks and has experience in most areas of the department including Patrol Commander, Detective Commander, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Officer, Economic Crimes Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Major, and Deputy Chief. She also serves as a special advisor to the board of NAWLEE (National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives). Mary was instrumental in the end-user design of Street Smart and is the subject matter expert on the solution.
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