The Indio Police Department is one of 34 police agencies in the country to try a unique approach to law enforcement. "We're going to be able to project, deter and prevent crime impacts," said Chief Richard Twiss.
The Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) is a collaboration between IPD and a University of California, Riverside sociologist. The partnership began in 2010. They produced a computer model that predicts, by census block group, where burglaries are likely to occur. Using the model, IPD has developed different processes to curb thefts. Using crime data from the last ten years and truancy records, Dr. Robert Nash Parker found patterns of crime in certain areas of the city. The department used the information to create a map of "hot spots" in the city. "It's a complicated equation, but we're not just saying this is where the bad people come from," said Dr. Parker. "This is also where the victims live and the more we can do to help them, the better off everyone's going to be."
The theory is helping the department to create programs to prevent crime. They include outreach programs, community safety fairs and meetings, and stronger partnership efforts with local business owners and others. The department also takes part in teaching Parent Project classes.
The next step Chief Twiss says is enforcement including a day-time curfew as well as making sure patrol officers have the information and data. "If they know that we're being impacted in certain areas of the city then they can use that for deployment of staff," said Twiss.
While Dr. Parker and the police department is careful not to make a clear correlation until they get more data, there has been a 8% decline in thefts in 2013 through nine months. "It could be awesome," said Gloria Rubio, an Indio resident. "That's pretty beneficial for our city and for our area."
The project is being funded by a four-year, $210,617 grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Smart Policing Initiative, which supports innovative efforts by police agencies to solve serious crime problems in their communities.