By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – The State Police has begun implementing the Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety, a new system that uses crime data to determine the deployment of police officers.
According to Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the State Police, the use of data analysis will improve the effectiveness of law enforcement response statewide.
“Our intelligence center looks at crime reports and analyzes the data in a map,” Etue said. “When you look at it like that, you can actually see the criminal hot spots. You can see if they move, how they move and send officers to those hot spots accordingly.”
The Michigan Intelligence Operations Center provides 24-hour-a-day statewide information-sharing among local, state and federal public safety agencies, according to the department.
According to Etue, timeliness will be key.
“Currently, most Michigan crime data is submitted weeks or months after the fact,” Etue said. “By 2022, crime statistics will be reported for intelligence analysis and resource deployment on a real-time basis, and troopers will receive daily or even hourly assignments based on this timely information.”
This new system has proven most effective for the cities in the Secure Cities Partnership – Flint, Detroit, Saginaw and Pontiac – which are ranked among the top 10 most violent cities in the country.
Real-time crime data has enabled the State Police to initiate directed patrols in all four areas, according to public affairs officer Shanon Banner.
“It’s been very effective in Flint and Saginaw,” Etue said. “They’ve needed additional law enforcement personnel in those areas, and with that data, we’ve been able to deliver.”
Lt. Matt Bolger, the State Police post commander in Flint, said that even though the system has been in effect only since April, he’s already seen some success.
“Obviously we don’t have a lot of long-term data, but I can say from my own experience that we’re making a lot more arrests,” Bolger said. “So yes, in terms of getting criminals and drugs off the streets, there’s been a significant change.”
Bolger also discussed how the system works away from headquarters.
Troopers enter their own activity data from enforcement operations, and officers from the intelligence center at headquarters collect and map it. State Police posts and police departments then receive monthly updates.
In addition to Flint, the State Police has 28 posts across the state, including Jackson, St. Ignace and Cadillac.
Troopers at these posts can see if criminal “hot spots” have evolved or changed when they receive mapped data.
In the system’s traffic component, the number of crashes in an area is counted to better predict where police will be needed to assist with traffic accidents.
Bolger said that while big cities like Flint provide more data to determine crime and traffic hot spots, smaller and more rural areas can still benefit.
“It could be helpful for targeting a certain crime or a small series of crimes in areas with smaller populations,” Bolger said. “If there was suddenly a wave of breaking and entering, for example, you could use the data to catch a specific offender.”
Other police departments use sites like crimemapping.com, which maps criminal activity data from police reports in a similar way but is accessible to the general public.
According to Corrigan O’Donohue, Royal Oak police chief, crimemapping.com provides an opportunity for residents and businesses to know what’s going on in their neighborhoods and notify police of suspicious activity.
“The interactive map will have different icons for the different crime categories, allowing users to quickly identify the types of crimes occurring,” O’Donohue said.
“Additionally, users will have the ability to sign up for alerts to be sent to their computer or smart phone for any crimes reported within a predetermined radius of their home or business,” he said.
Other police departments using that software include those in Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids.
By CELESTE BOTT