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Police Explain Revisions to Improve Property Crimes Investigation

Public safety workshop set to discuss changes, more with citizens

Release Date: 3/30/2012 12:30:00 PM

MEDIA CONTACTS: Marlene Feist, City of Spokane, (509) 625-6740 or Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane Police Department, (509) 209-7178

The Spokane Police Department today is announcing its new approach to property crimes investigation designed to solve more crimes using available officers and resources.

100-Day Action Plan

“We are taking a data-driven, analytical approach to our work on property crimes to deliver results that will improve the safety of our citizens,” says interim Police Chief Scott Stephens. “Improving property crimes investigation is an important priority for the Mayor, the City Council, the Police Department, and our citizens.”

Improving property crimes investigation also is one of 21 action items included in the Mayor David Condon’s 100-Day Action Plan. “I have charged our Police leadership with being innovative and resourceful to make a difference on behalf of our citizens,” says Mayor Condon. “We will be tracking the success of these efforts and reporting back to our community.”

Additionally, as a part of National Crime Victims Rights Week April 23-28, the City of Spokane and Spokane Police Department are announcing plans for a Public Safety workshop that will allow citizens to discuss improvements to property crimes investigation, learn about opportunities to volunteer with SPD, and provide input on the qualities needed in a new Police Chief. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 24, at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt, from 7 to 8 p.m.

To improve property crimes investigation, the SPD is working smarter to solve more crimes. The approach includes using tools in a strategic way to address target areas that give us the best results.

Work is focusing on:

  • Repeat or prolific offenders. Repeat offenders are responsible for significant numbers of crime. Concentrating on these individuals makes an impact on crime immediately.
  • Specific crime trends. Police are identifying patterns and crime trends quickly and can address numbers of crimes at once, making a larger impact. Citizens should report all crimes to assist analysts in establishing trends and patterns.
  • Geographic hot spots. Starting April 1, the SPD will launch a pilot project to focus efforts geographically.

That pilot project, Focused Area Emphasis, calls for officers to patrol areas with historically high levels of property crime and related calls for police service during their uncommitted time in increments of 10 to 15 minutes. The pilot program will focus on a couple of areas and run through the end of the year.

Other cities have had tremendous success with this approach since they found that a few problem areas often account for significant calls for service. When analyzing data for Spokane, the City found that 50 percent of the SPD’s calls for service occurred in 6.5 percent of the City’s 17,000 blocks.

To make these efforts successful, the SPD is working to use its tools—people, partnerships, and technology—more effectively.

property crimes patrol car

In the area of people, the Department has empowered its patrol officers to take more pro-active approach out in the field, creating the PACT—Patrol Anti-Crime Team—to be more aggressive in stopping crime. Detectives in the Targeted Crimes Unit have been organized to allow them to use data to focus their work, and the SPD has reallocated one detective to increase the amount of follow-up investigation on property crimes.

And, some work will be reassigned to free up officers for more active policing work. For example, the SPD is exploring the possibility of having most stolen vehicle reports taken by Crime Check. Unless the crime is in progress or there is evidence that an officer needs to collect, a report taken by Crime Check could be immediately input into the SPD’s computer systems, improving efficiency.

Partnerships also are key. The SPD is also sharing information and working collaboratively with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Valley Police, FBI, U.S. Marshalls, Washington State Patrol, and other local and regional law enforcement agencies to be more effective. And, we’re using volunteers to be additional eyes and ears in our neighborhoods.

And finally, technology brings in a lot of useful data. Sophisticated databases, improved crime analysis software and mapping, automated license plate readers, and new electronic case submission to prosecutors all improve crime fighting efforts.

The changes in property crimes investigation are having an impact.

“As we worked to change our approach on property crimes, we are starting to see some results,” says Chief Stephens. “The number of vehicle break-ins and prowlings are going down, and we’re working to impact burglaries in a significant way in the coming months. We heard the citizens; they need their police department to address property crimes, and we are responding.”

This new approach to property crimes has led to some successes, including several in the last couple of weeks:

  • On March 21, officers tracked down and arrested a burglary suspect the same day when a homeowner was able to provide an excellent description and vehicle license plate. The information from the homeowner made the crime very solvable.
  • On March 20, officers arrested repeat offender Grant Brough on multiple property crime-related charges. This offender has been arrested and convicted for property crimes and other charges over the last 19 years.
  • Also on March 20, officers broken up a vehicle “chop shop” on March 20 in the 4000 block of North Pittsburg through the efforts of the PACT team.
  • And earlier in the month, officers arrested Reshawn Zinnerman on a burglary charge just hours after he was released from the Spokane County Jail for a similar crime.

To assist officers in their work, citizens are encouraged to report all crimes and suspicious activity to 9-1-1 or Crime Check at 456-2233. In addition, citizens might consider organizing a Block Watch or taking other steps to help combat crime, such as removing valuables from their vehicles, locking doors, and taking other precautions.

“For this approach to work, we need to work hand-in-hand with our citizens,” Chief Stephens says. “Our citizens are extra eyes and ears in our neighborhoods. We all benefit when we pay attention to what’s happening in our community.”

Spokane Police Department Property Crimes Investigation 2012
Spokane Police Department Property Crimes Chart

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