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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Chicago's New Crime Strategies Working, Researchers Say

From the Chicago Sun-Times:  "Technology, sharing of information and immediate deployments to high-crime areas appear to be working in reducing Chicago's crime rate.  That was the assessment from University of Illinois researchers who spent two years examining the department and the new strategies put in place by Supt. Phil Cline.  The study will continue, and one author cautioned it is too soon to say for sure what is behind the 25 percent reduction in homicides in Chicago in 2004. That meant 153 fewer murders than the year before -- and it also marked the apparent cessation of a trend that had homicide rates hovering around 600 for the previous five years.  "I think we're fairly confident that these initiatives played a key role, but there may have been other forces at work as well,'' said Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who co-authored the study.

Rosenbaum said the research showed Chicago did a good job at what's called "hot-spot policing'' by getting special units to areas of the city that needed attention because of spiking crime.  Technology was used in conjunction with street intelligence to float units around as needed.  Rosenbaum said the researchers were able to show that districts with the largest increases in "contact cards" -- which means officers have talked to a resident to gather information -- also showed the largest decreases in public violence.

The study noted how the department, similar to New York, is holding commanders working around the city accountable by calling them in for weekly meetings about crime in their areas.  The study also surveyed exempt employees -- which refers mostly to command staff -- about what was working. Community beat meetings got lower ratings than cleaning up graffiti. Street corner drug busts also got high marks, as did giving more resources to deputy district chiefs -- who oversee patrol operations in all six geographic areas."  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

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