Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

New police program uses crime and traffic data to identify high-density patrol areas

By Daniel Chacon Published: May 13, 2013

Colorado Springs is putting cops on dots.

Map dots, that is.

The Police Department is experimenting with a new program that correlates crime and traffic data and increases police visibility and traffic enforcement where they overlap the most.

'The theory behind it is this: Obviously, people who engage in most crime, especially property crime - somehow, someway, a vehicle is typically involved, ' said police Cmdr. Skip Arms.

'What we do is we engage in high-visibility enforcement, and the hopes are that when you overlay crime and traffic data, the percentage of running into people who may have been involved in criminal activity is higher, ' he said.

Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety, or DDACTS as it's called, 'relies heavily on the fact that traffic enforcement is law enforcement, ' said Capt. Michael Alexander of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, a DDACTS demonstration site.

'We realize that most of the criminal element is riding or driving in a vehicle, ' he said. 'Obviously, not everyone involved in a crash has committed a crime. We understand that. But still, you don't hear of many walk-by shootings. You hear of drive-by shootings. '

In Colorado Springs, the department assigned six motorcycle officers to the program.

Officers spent the first three months of the year along Murray Boulevard and the streets on both sides of Murray between Platte and Pikes Peak avenues.

In April, officers moved to Academy Boulevard and Academy's side streets between Morning Sun Avenue and Parkmoor Village Drive - a zone near Austin Bluffs Parkway.

While police are still analyzing the results of the first three months of the program, they say crime dropped significantly along Murray.

'What we're really looking at now is to see, did we displace it somewhere else and is it going to stay diminished for a period of time after we've left the target area? ' Arms said.

The Police Department is testing only a 'modified version ' of DDACTS, Arms said.

'As we gain more information about the program, we will likely pull more resources and principles into our program, ' he said.

Arms said the department is wrestling with the 'ideal size ' of a target area.

'If it's too big, you sort of dilute the presence of your six officers. If it's too small, they're all over each other, ' he said.

'What puts us at a little of a disadvantage to other cities is that the land size of this city is huge, ' Arms said of Colorado Springs, which covers about 200 square miles.

'Crime doesn't tend to necessarily always be as concentrated as maybe other cities with larger populations and smaller geographical areas, ' he said.

Arms said the department correlated traffic data with property crime instead of violent crime because property crime is more conducive to patterns.

'Somebody may shoot somebody out of a spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous act, but somebody who does burglaries typically doesn't do just one, ' he said.

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Contact Daniel ChacOn: 476-1623 Twitter @danieljchacon Facebook Daniel Chacon

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