Data-Based Analysis Approach in Preventing Crime at Dallas PD

Subject: Law
Pages: 17
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18 min
Study level: Master

Preventing crimes has recently become one of the primary objectives of the Dallas Police Department that has been subjected to harsh critique on the increase in violent crime and the ineffectiveness of law enforcement. In 2020, Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall presented a plan that includes long-term and short-term measures aimed at crime prevention (Hall, 2020). This plan is said to be “data and intelligence-driven” and, among other initiatives, presupposes developing more effective methods of identifying high-risk zones and individuals (Hall, 2020, p. 1). Moreover, it implies creating a new Intelligence Led Policing Division that would be comprised of the already-existing units along with a new Real-Time Crime Center (Hall, 2020). However, according to the Dallas Police Violent Crime Reduction Plan, the main objectives improve the coordination and information exchange processes (Hall, 2020). While it is essential to ensure the relay of information, “developing and maintaining a strong analytical capacity within police departments” is of much more vital importance (Braga, 2015, p. 20). Therefore, the goal of the proposed approach is to enhance the effectiveness of the analysis and research functions within the Intelligence Led Policing Division.

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The offered strategy fits into the supporting structure of environmental criminology that analyzes crime event patterns. This theory is concentrated on preventing crimes by forecasting possible scenarios based on various data. As researchers note, “environmental criminologists look for crime patterns and seek to explain them in terms of environmental influences” (Wortley & Townsley, 2017, p. 1). Having a highly developed research center would potentially address some hard-pressing challenges. First, it would allow making hot-spot areas more precise, resulting in even more effective resource allocation. As different crime types tend to cluster in space, the common practice of defining crime hot-spots has been used by the police. Second, a modern research center would make it possible to implement other appropriate methods, incorporating a temporal factor in crime prediction modeling (Catlett et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2019). This step helps decrease the time police patrols spend at one location and increase the effectiveness of police resources’ deployment. Finally, it would be useful to acknowledge other trends that have recently emerged, including offender mobility research on crime tips, movements, geographic profiling, and sexual assault patterns.

Moreover, a stronger concentration on data-based analysis would pave the way for improving the police work organization that is now focused on responding and arresting. The shift from “handling incidents to addressing problems” could improve the agency’s image and redefine the meaning of policing (Wortley & Townsley, 2017, p. 252). This factor is essential at the present time as the chosen police department has been heavily criticized for being ineffective. In general, this policy brief will focus on the description of the Dallas Police Department as the agency that develops a new program. Implications of the policy on the basis of the theory of supporting structure of environmental criminology, its strengths, and limitations will be discussed to understand the worth of the Intelligence Led Policing Division today.

Agency Description

The Dallas Police Department was created more than 120 years ago as an organization to promote a fair atmosphere of ethical and caring behavior. The main idea was not to introduce one legal body and make sure it protects the citizens of Dallas but to cooperate with the community and improve the existing criminal and justice systems. The Dallas Police Department is responsible for overseeing city-level law enforcement in the City of Dallas. There are more than 3,600 sworn officers and more than 500 civilians who dedicate their lives to reduce crimes and promote safety in all patrol divisions (The Dallas Police Department, 2016). All employees perfectly understand what they should do and how to delegate their responsibilities. Chief of Police, Reneé Hall, has a solid back-up, including Major Reuben Ramirez and Assistant Director of External Affairs, Jannell Newsome. In addition, there are four executives and three assistant chiefs to coordinate local divisions and bureaus. At this moment, the agency “strives to reduce crime and provide a safe city” (Dallas Police Department, 2016, para. 1). All the members of the team are ready to work, following the chosen mission.

Understanding the goals and social expectations is one of the priorities for the Dallas Police Department. The organization fulfills this statement by helping people and providing assistance, including preventive, investigative, and enforcement services, as well as community cooperation (Dallas Police Department, 2016). To achieve all these statements, both men and women of the department always remember the required ethical standards, including respect, courteous treatment, dignity, honesty, and public trust (Dallas Police Department, 2016). Alone with regular social support in real time, people are able to find enough information online. Such technical advancement helps enhance order and provide recommendations for ordinary citizens on how to behave, contribute to the development of the legal system in the region, and promote safety, using available resources and knowledge.

Preventing crimes is one of the initial goals of the Dallas Police Department. In fact, people realize that it is impossible to prevent all the crimes, even applying the best technologies and addressing the smartest human resources. There is no “panacea” from crimes, but it is always possible to try doing something and believing that changes and improvements may be achieved (Hall, 2020). Due to the violent crime spike at the beginning of 2020, Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall was demanded to present a plan that reduces violent crimes (Jaramillo, 2020a). However, the recent reports show that, despite the implemented measures, the number of aggravated assaults has only risen, while the number of murders has even exceeded the last year’s statistics (Jaramillo, 2020b). Therefore, all the employees of the Dallas Police Department are interested in the introduction of new programs and methods of control and keeping order in society. The ideals and principles of the team meet the demands of the country and separate individuals who want to improve the quality of American life.

Needs Assessment

Method

Regarding the number of available articles, websites, and professionals in the legal field, it was possible to create an assessment of the necessity of the program, relying on credible sources and verified data. There were several stages of the evaluation, including agency and academic research. On the one hand, agency research was collected through online searches and reviews of the Dallas Police Department website. On the other hand, much attention was paid to academic research and the contributions of professional writers and theorists in their intention to analyze the current crime situation in the country. In general, both methods were effective in creating a solid background for the analysis of the program and understanding its outcomes for society.

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Agency research provided information about the agency, including its goals, programs, and the city’s demographic information, as well as about the current challenges that the Dallas Police Department faced at the moment of the investigation. Today, it does not take much time to find an official site of the required organization and read what employees use and know within the frames of their responsibilities. Background research aimed at gathering the necessary information on the crime rates in Dallas and the gradual increase in violent crime rates despite the measures being implemented.

To prove the importance of the program, it is necessary to show the current situation in the region and explain why changes are expected. Using the material from the official site of the Dallas Police Department, several critical elements were found. Firstly, this research presented evidence of a need for an effective crime reduction plan for the Dallas Police Department. The existing crime reduction plan developed by the Dallas Police Department was also analyzed (Hall, 2020). The main idea was to increase the number of police officers instead of implementing a more tactical approach and concentrating on improving the department’s image, which has been damaged over recent years (Jaramillo, 2020b). It was evaluated in accordance with the existing critique of the Dallas Police Department. Secondly, a data-based analysis approach was suggested as the most effective way of addressing the need for an effective and tactical crime reduction plan.

Another method, academic research, was conducted using online databases. The chosen sources focus on studying various data-driven analysis techniques in crime prevention in the United States and internationally (Drawve et al., 2019). The research demonstrates that data-driven methods allow predicting crime more effectively and significantly reduce crime rates (Andresen et al., 2017; Bediroglu et al., 2018; Birks & Davies, 2017; Brantingham et al., 2020; Catlett et al., 2019; Drawye et al., 2019; Hart, 2019; Kennedy et al., 2018; Kuo & Lord, 2019; LeClerc & Savona, 2016; Piza & Carter, 2018; Sohn, 2016; Zhang et al., 2019). To make sure that academic information is appropriate for the program’s analysis, it was necessary to establish clear inclusion criteria like the year of publication (five last years) and the type of source (peer-reviewed articles, academic books, and specialized journals or magazines). To be exact, the information on environmental criminology, a supporting structural theory, was gathered through academic publications and books (Braga, 2015; Walker & Drawye, 2018; Wortley & Townsley, 2017). Recent case studies and findings were obtained from journals and magazines where authors used credible studies and theories.

Strengths and Limitations

As well as any research process, this needs assessment is characterized by certain strengths and limitations to be mentioned. The necessity to predict crimes and reduce the number of negative outcomes seems to be general and even naïve, but multiple attempts are made to improve the situation. Among the strengths of this project, it is necessary to admit that this method allowed gaining the required information on the state of affairs with crime rates and crime prevention in Dallas. In addition, it became possible to create a solution that would help to address the existing needs of the Dallas Police Department. Despite the existing enthusiasm of the officers to protect their citizens, sometimes, no free time is available to gather background information. Therefore, this policy brief is a good opportunity to combine the already made achievements in the sphere of criminology and the expected changes. Besides, background research about the chosen approach supports the validity of proposed methods with the results of contemporary studies. At times, researchers are not able to prove the correctness of their decisions, and this practice is based on reliable and credible sources.

Talking about limitations, one should mention that research on data-driven crime prevention measures is extensive, and the current study cannot consider the whole corpus of scientific research. It is expected to continue the investigation, focusing on specific issues of the case in the city of Dallas. It is necessary to admit that no attention was paid to the already offered policies and programs that have been implemented by the Dallas Police Department. The evaluation of past initiatives could help recognize what offers work good and which improvements were required within different periods of time. Finally, the implementation of the proposed policy depends solely on the decision of the Dallas Police Department. It means that no one except the representatives of the department must take responsibility for the project. The goal of this assessment is not to create a final conclusion but to prepare potential executors for developing a program, focusing on its pros and cons.

Key Findings

Agency

The Dallas Police Department includes more than 4,000 officers and civilians who are known for their passion for protecting the citizen and promoting safety on its streets and in houses. However, the number of crimes is hard to control because many things depend not only on the work of the department but on people and their desire to cooperate. Unfortunately, one of the key findings of agency research is that crimes continue happening. According to the official statistics, “in 2019, the City of Dallas experienced an overall increase of 3.9% in crime compared to the same period in 2018” (Hall, 2020, p. 2). Moreover, by mid-December 2019, the violent crime rate had risen by 15% (Hall, 2020, p. 2). Among the reasons for promoting a new crime reduction plan, Hall (2020) underlined three types of crimes and compared their incidence in 2018 and 2019. For example, aggravated assaults and homicides have increased by 27.3%, and robberies grew up to 14.5% (Hall, 2020). Southeast, Southwest, and South Central divisions are mostly challenged by aggravated assaults. In the Northeast and Southwest districts, the rise of robberies was observed.

Regarding such data, several crime reduction goals were established in regard to the regions and the types of crimes that must be controlled. For example, it was expected to reduce the number of aggravated assaults up to 10% in the south of the city (Hall, 2020). The question that might appear is what should be done in other regions in case criminals begin their activities there. The same concerns are developed around the reduction of robberies by 10% in the Northeast and Southwest only. The Intelligence Led Police Division implies the improvement of officers’ abilities to deter crimes. Still, this program should not include geographical or demographic aspects, but to create equal opportunities for all the participants.

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At the same time, the findings show that the crime prevention plan proposed by the Dallas Police Department does not address the issue at hand. It is heavily based on extending the number of police officers, while the Intelligence Led Policing Division is suggested to take responsibility mainly on providing better communication between other departments. In addition, although the agency is introduced as the developers of the program, connection with the community cannot be ignored. Directed tactical enforcement and gathering of critical criminal intelligence turn out to be the main elements of the policy that are properly distributed through community organizations and leaders (Hall, 2020). Therefore, the role of the community as one of the external sources cannot be ignored, but its direct influence on law enforcement is hard to predict, as well as the outcomes of the policy.

Academic

Crime reduction remains a significant topic for discussion among a variety of academic studies, and researchers consider the impact of the theoretical background on practical achievements in the field. For example, Braga (2015) reports that “developing and maintaining a strong analytical capacity within police departments” is one of the most fundamental factors in establishing an effective crime prevention strategy (p. 20). This method helps uncover the complex mechanism of crimes and recognize the strategies that address the current criminological situation in regard to the available resources (Braga, 2015). If the police department does not demonstrate any achievements in crime control or prevention, the community questions police legitimacy, showing neither trust nor confidence.

Data-based analysis approach aimed at outlining crime hotspots in time and space along with the offender mobility research, geographic profiling, and sexual assault patterns are proven to be effective in reducing crime rates. For example, Andresen et al. (2017), Brantingham et al. (2020), Bediroglu et al. (2018), and Hart (2019) underlined the importance of studying the nature of geographical locations of crimes. In the program, Hall (2020) recognized several regions where crime control is important. The findings by Birks and Davies (2017), Catlett et al. (2019) and Drawye et al. (2019) proved the complexity of causal relationships in crime prevention. Finally, it was important to clarify the connection between theory, research, and practice. Kennedy et al. (2018), Kuo and Lord (2019), LeClerc and Savona (2016), Piza and Carter (2018), Sohn (2016), and Zhang et al. (2019) used case studies from different countries to show how tactical response must be organized in relation to geographical edges. These findings proved that crimes may be clustered, and their prevention depends on how well police officers are aware of the geographic and demographic characteristics of their regions.

According to the program, there are several critical areas in Dallas, and the Intelligence Led Policing Division should not cover the improvements in the north, east, south, and west. On the one hand, some may consider such an approach weak and unstable because of the impossibility to enhance equality and control. Catlett et al. (2019) tell about the lack of interest in terms of crime analysis among some groups after a static subdivision. On the other hand, such an approach may promote positive changes and support the development of similar steps in other parts of the city. Drawve et al. (2018) support the idea of sun-unit analysis and divisions because of the creation of a stronger situational context. A data-driven approach has its own specific features, and the Dallas Police Department is responsible for promoting clear priorities and reasons.

Finally, the data-based analysis allows improving the organization of police work and crime detection. Crime analysis consists of a number of steps that are systematically arranged on the basis of known crime patterns, police reports, and crime scene characteristics (Wortley & Townsley, 2017). This method proves the necessity to gather as much data as possible to understand the nature of crimes and identify the ways of their prevention. Police officers and researchers have to be attentive with taking all the steps, including resource deployment, planning, evaluation, and prevention (Wortley & Townsley, 2017). All these tasks presuppose the development of certain analytical skills, decision-making, and critical thinking through the prism of environmental criminology and structural theories.

Recommendation

The implementation of a data-based analysis approach will likely prevent numerous crimes and improve the effectiveness of crime-solving. This policy is necessary to show how to change the existing system of crime reduction and facilitate available police resources. Instead of expanding the police force, the strategy is to create conditions for a more tactical approach based on tangible metrics and insights and lead to better crime rates and crime detection rates.

Policy Description and Implementation

The Dallas Police Department 2020 Violent Crime Reduction Plan introduces a data-driven analysis approach, the implementation of which results in reducing violent crimes. There are many ways of how people or places could influence crimes, and the task of police officers is to set clear metrics and assess the effectiveness of their work (Hall, 2020). The main reason for promoting this program within the chosen region is the attention to people, places, and human behaviors.

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Target Population

The target population of the program will be the staff of the Dallas Police Department, including police officers, non-policing staff, and consulting researchers. At this moment, there are several units that deal with analyzing data and forecasting in the department. They are the Crime Analysis Unit, the Dallas Fusion Center, the Criminal Justice Unit, and the Real-Time Crime Center, which are currently being united into a new Intelligence Led Policing Division (Hall, 2020). However, regarding the intention to improve such processes as coordination and information exchange, it is necessary to define the Intelligence Led Policing Division as one of the major targets of transformation.

Mission and Goals

The mission of the program under analysis is to create enough opportunities and conditions for research-based, data-driven crime prevention that reduce crime rates and demonstrate a long-standing effect on the agency’s effectiveness. Along with this general task, the participants should focus on the enhancement of the effectiveness in analysis and research functions within the Intelligence Led Policing Division. In addition, it is expected to observe the reduction of crime rates and facilitate available police sources more effectively will be achieved by reaching the first objective. Therefore, the work of the whole Dallas Police Department has to be improved by means of extended research, existing techniques, informative seminars and training, and data analysis.

Implementation and Action Plan

The implementation plan of the Intelligence Led Policing Division program consists of four major steps. First, it is necessary to create a working group, the purpose of which is to schedule the necessary steps, along with their time limits and possible achievements. During this stage, the analysis of the potential police officers’ skills and knowledge is required to understand what they know about the program and their required contributions. The department has to establish the priorities such as rapid reply or preferred criminal behaviors as a part of the system (Hall, 2020). The second stage is the creation of research groups that have to work on a data-based analysis of crime prevention. According to Hall (2020), the division into smaller groups is obligatory because of the functions that should be performed, including investigation, operation distribution, gang, etc. Regarding the nature of the policy, data collection is the main factor according to which groups are formed and promoted within the department.

Third, it is important to engage specialists from other institutions and research centers who could provide their insight on the issues connected with crime control and prevention. Within this stage of the program, the establishment of trustful relationships is critical because the police department is not the only official reporter about crime rates in the region. Therefore, cooperation includes the exchange of information, respect, and regular meetings with outside sources. Finally, certain attention should be paid to the education of police officers. The implementation of the program is promoted through a number of sessions during which police officers are informed about how to behave, share their findings, and make contributions to the current system. Educative presentations, brief questionnaires, and simulations are used as the main learning material.

Theoretical Assumptions and Implications

The necessity to prepare police officers for changes in crime control procedures has to correspond to the already approved theories. In this policy brief, the proposed strategy fits into the supporting structure of environmental criminology that deals with analyzing crime event patterns. This theory is concentrated on preventing crimes by forecasting possible scenarios based on various data. As Wortley and Townsley (2017) note that “environmental criminologists look for crime patterns and seek to explain them in terms of environmental influences” (p. 1). Having a highly developed research center would potentially address some hard-pressing challenges related to data collection and analysis. The theory shows that the creation of a common data gathering community is explained by geographical differences, personal interests, and the quality of information that is available to the population. Environmental criminology is never simple, and it proves that crime may be influenced but not causes by the environment, while individuals are true sources of deviant behaviors and public concerns.

Following the offered theoretical background, several advantages of the program for the community and the police department could be revealed. First, it turns out to be a successful base for making hotspots areas more precise, resulting in even more effective resource allocation. As different crime types tend to cluster in space, the common practice of defining crime hotspots has to be used by the police under the supporting structure of environmental criminology. Along with a highly developed research center, the implementation of other methods, such as incorporation of a temporal factor in crime prediction modeling, could be possible (Catlett et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2019). This opportunity will decrease the time police patrols spend at one location and increase the effectiveness of police resources’ deployment.

Finally, one should admit that acknowledging the research trends that have recently emerged recently is another serious contribution to the implementation of the program under the theoretical assumption of the supporting structure theory. Piza and Carter (2018) introduced the offender mobility research on crime trips and movements and underlined geographic profiling as a part of the analysis of crime nature to make policing even more effective. Obtained knowledge and sources show that theories and practices are interconnected, and their impact on understanding anti-crime policies cannot be ignored.

Pros and Cons

Taking into consideration the information about the agency, the program, and the theory to depict the importance of changes, it is necessary to analyze the existing pros and cons of the Intelligence Led Policing Division. Although the developers of programs want to believe that their ideas provoke only positive changes, the success of the policy implementation also depends on how well the challenges are defined and managed. Therefore, the discussion of the strengths and limitations of the policy should be mentioned in this brief.

Pros

Such advantages as analytical thinking and crime prevention turn out to be evident priorities that are interesting to the police department and the community. Developing and maintaining a strong analytical capacity within police departments is an excellent chance to make the current crime prevention methods more precise and extensive. The application of spatial hotspots, temporal hotspots, crime trips, and geographic profiling is proved to obtain positive results and crime decrease. Another benefit includes the time that police patrols should spend at one location. Zhang et al. (2019) predict capturing 70% of future thefts by using only 20% of men-hour, which is 13% more than traditional methods. As a result, the effectiveness of police resources’ deployment will also be changed. The more people get to know about their crime-related triggers, the better their crime prevention policies could work. It is not for the police department to study statistics and check how it changes with time. The intention is to offer as much information as possible and make it available to the community.

Finally, the improvement of the police work organization has to be focused on responding and arresting. The shift from “handling incidents to addressing problems” would improve the agency’s image and redefine the meaning of policing (Wortley & Townsley, 2017, p. 252). It is not enough to consider crime prevention as a number of steps before an event happens. The way criminals are punished and treated also determines the quality of crime, and the program under analysis helps police officers understand this issue. The worth of the practice is the promotion of transparency and legitimacy. The current programs and the application of emerging technologies remove human resource problems and optimize the internal processes, focusing on coordination, communication, and education.

Cons

At the same time, there are several shortages of the program that have to be recognized and solved at the organizational level. First, the chosen approach is costly and requires the use of additional sources, recruitment of non-police personnel, and education of police officers. It is hard to predict the final price of the project, and the participants may face new challenges in the middle of the process. Therefore, it is critical to develop an additional database that includes unpredictable and poorly investigated areas of the program. Another con touches upon the results of the intervention and the impossibility to identify all the outcomes over the course of time. There are many external resources and challenges that policy-makers are not able to study or predict. As a result, the duration of the program implementation can become a serious challenge in this work.

Conclusion

The number of crimes in Dallas is under profound control of the police department and researchers. Many attempts to reduce crimes, understand their nature, and provide the population with a safe and sound environment have already been taken. In this policy brief, attention was paid to the data-based analysis in preventing crimes. The Chief of the Dallas Police Department was the author of the Violent Crime Reduction Plan on the basis of a new Intelligence Led Policing Division. It was expected to gather the population data and crime information, develop strategic operations, and involve the staff and the community in law enforcement. As soon as police officers are equipped with information, they may be divided into groups as per their regions and focus on the crimes’ environmental causes. Enhanced collaboration, accountability, and transparency are the characteristics of the program. The police department has to develop reports regularly and compare the statistics to understand if there are any shifts and what strategies work effectively. The success of the Intelligence Led Policing Division is not just the contributions of one person but a list of steps, strategic decisions, and evidence-based findings.

References

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