By Chief Eric Jones, Stockton Police Department
Data analytics – using massive quantities of information to tease out previously unknown or unconfirmed relationships – has not been used that much in local law enforcement with the goal of reducing violent crime.
But Stockton, Calif., had a huge problem with firearm-related violence.
In 2011 it was the second most violent city in California, and 10th in the United States; Forbes dubbed it “the most miserable city in America.”
(The northern California city aims to improve its image. Courtesy of Forbes and YouTube. Posted on Feb 22, 2010)
In 2012, PBS echoed that ranking, noting that the city’s financial woes had resulted in a 27 percent reduction of the police force, creating an opening for even more violence.
Looking for ways to maximize scarce resources and cut crime rates, the Stockton Police Department decided to move to evidence-based policing, defined as using research, evaluation, analysis and scientific processes to inform decision-making and help prioritize allocation of resources.
When the department made this decision in 2013, this kind of predictive analysis was uncommon, and U.S. law enforcement agencies focused early programs on forecasting and reducing property crimes.
The Stockton program would be pioneering the use of analytics to try to bring down violent firearm-related crimes.
The theory in criminal justice is that a strong law enforcement presence is what prevents crime; using analytics, the department would concentrate resources in specific areas to try to bring firearm-related crime rates down.
(Take a Journey in Evidence Based Policing with the Stockton Police Department. Learn how we identify Focus Areas and create Deployment Strategies designed to form community partnerships and reduce crime. Courtesy of StocktonPD1850 and YouTube)
Command staff chose a crime analysis platform from LexisNexis Risk Solutions that uses predictive and analytical software combined with mapping tools to identify and analyze crime activities and patterns.
As part of the contract, the company provided a full-time crime analyst experienced in using the software, who works side by side with a six-member team of Stockton Police Department crime analysts and staff.
The new program was named Project Forebode, which stands for forecast-based deployment.
It took time for the program to get up and running – selecting the databases and time periods to be included, customizing the predictive model, training the department’s analysts in its use.
Domestic violence incidents that included use of a firearm were excluded, since domestic violence is a different kind of crime, often involving chronic behavior.
Implementing the program
Project Forebode is comprised of three phases:
Phase I – Data Testing
Initially, the analysts had to establish a baseline of the occurrence of violent firearm-related crimes from before this new, targeted approach to assigning police resources, in order to be able to judge the effectiveness of the strategy. Crime data from 2014 served as that baseline
Crime data from 2014 served as that baseline. Stockton’s crime analysts use six months of data to generate the forecasts.
For instance, to make a prediction for January 2017, the analysts would look at the previous six months (July through December 2016).
The same is true to establish the forecast for February 2017 (i.e., August through January), and so on.
Historic mapped data also comes into play; the department identified areas within their six districts that were accounting for 30 percent of all gun crimes in the city and focused on generating forecasts for those areas.
Forecasts based on the recent past can only go so far, however.
Phase II – Operationalizing the Forecast
Phase II, operationalizing the forecast, is where the experience and “street-level” intelligence of officers were applied.
Analysts attended monthly Intelligence, Communication and Planning (ICAP) meetings to provide context to their analysis.
Forecast related calls for services were created with the intent to provide officers in the field with a defined area and time to be present in the attempt to prevent crime.
Phase III – Continuous Improvement
The third phase is ongoing, and in a state of continuous improvement.
Staff from all five of the Department’s divisions meet with the crime analysts to review the forecasts for each district during the monthly ICAP meeting.
This is where the captain looks for valuable human intelligence by asking analysts and the officers’ questions about what is happening in the field.
The meeting seeks to identify what the officers can provide to help explain trends and activity the analysts are reporting in specific districts.
Based on the forecasts and the feet-on-the-street knowledge, ICAP identifies a primary “Focus” area and a secondary district that both receive increased attention.
The secondary area receives the recurring calls for service and the “Focus” area receives the calls for service along with additional efforts and resources from all five of the divisions.
The ICAP team discusses specific actions to take, such as specific enforcement and outreach to the community, all with the aim of maintaining police visibility in the targeted areas.
It is not enough to rely on consistent parameters for the forecast, human intelligence is a necessity.
The process must be enhanced based on information from officers in the field and lessons learned.
As Project Forebode continues, the crime analysts are asked different, in depth questions by the officers, Captains and Deputy Chiefs that they use to improve their analysis.
ICAP team members are asking for new ways to look at the data, to find additional connections that will improve their prevention and response plans.
(Learn More, from this full panel interview, featuring Chief Eric Jones, Stockton Police Department, Michael Tubbs, Mayor, City of Stockton, Kurt O. Wilson, City Manager, City of Stockton and various community leaders & fellow departments. Posted on Mar 27, 2017)
The program is popular internally, and it is helping with recruiting – young people interested in law enforcement careers are excited to see the department is embracing new tools and technologies.
As for its impact on violent firearm-related crime, early results have been promising.
From March through May 2016, the department saw a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction month-to-month in the selected zones.
Accompanying that, during the same time period there was a 20 percent to 30 percent drop in property crimes.
Stockton Police Department in a Glance
The Stockton Police Department, led by Chief Eric Jones, protects and serves the citizens of the 13th largest city in California with a population of over 306,000, covering 65 square miles.
“As a Stockton resident, I care about our City,” explains Chief Jones. I believe a police department can only be as good as the partnerships it creates with its community.”
“Together – through information sharing and crime fighting strategies – we share the responsibility of improving our quality of life.”
“I believe the Stockton Police Department is an outstanding organization, comprised of the finest employees and dedicated volunteers who all share the same vision of combating crime.”
Stockton Police Department Strategic Plan 2017-2019
SPD is an outstanding organization that also recognizes the need and opportunity for continual improvement.
To that end, our strategic plan is the result of much collaboration among SPD staff.
We are excited to move forward in pursuit of the goals and objectives included in this strategic plan and confident this plan’s successful implementation will keep the SPD positioned at the forefront of contemporary, effective law enforcement organizations nationwide.
The Stockton Police Department will focus on accomplishing these goals over the next three years:
- Reduce crime and blight
- Increase trust between the community and police
- Recruit and hire a qualified, diverse workforce
- Employ staff who are highly trained, knowledgeable and prepared
(Stockton Police, Begin Your Journey! joinspd.com Courtesy of StocktonPD1850 and YouTube)
The Stockton Police Department is recruiting Police Officers.
- Please visit Police Officer Careers to learn more about career opportunities.
- Fill out an interest card or apply for positions by visiting the City’s Employment Opportunities.
Stockton Police Department in 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program
The 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program, is organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of Physical, IT, Port Security, Law Enforcement, First Responders, (Fire, EMT, Military, Support Services Vets, SBA, Medical Tech) as well as the Federal, State, County and Municipal Government Agencies – to acknowledge their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’
As an ‘ASTORS’ competitor, The Stockton Police Department will be competing against the industry’s leading providers of Innovative Municipal Public Safety Programs.
American Security Today will be holding the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m, Wednesday, November 15th at ISC East, the Northeast’s largest security industry event, in the Jacob Javits Exhibition Center in New York City.
At ISC East you will have the chance to meet with technical reps from over 225 leading brands in the security industry, allowing you to find out about new products and stay ahead of the competition.
Encompassing everything from Video Surveillance and Access Control to Smart Home Technologies and Unmanned Security, you’re sure to find products and services that will benefit your company and clients.