Fighting Crime with Technology: A Detroit Success Story

12/16/11Follow @XconomyDET

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dangerous drugs are down 47 percent. This is directly related to technology and the partnerships we’ve formed with the community and other agencies.”

WSUPD patrols an area just north of downtown, commonly referred to as Midtown, that is the size of a small city—200 acres supporting 32,000 students, 7,000 employees, and thousands of full-time residents who have no relationship with the university. Its borders are Virginia Park to the north, I-75 to the east, Trumbull and 14th to the west, and Mack to the south. Midtown is also considered the city’s cultural center, as it’s home to all of the major museums, the city’s best hospitals, and the university.

The WSUPD force is made up of 51 officers who patrol their jurisdiction in cars, on bikes, and on foot. Each officer has at least a bachelor’s degree and many have advanced degrees. Nearly half of police officers are Wayne State graduates.

The WSUPD emails a monthly crime report to all students, faculty, and staff which lists the number of reported incidents for the previous month and includes information on homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, breaking and entering, larceny, vehicle theft, and arson. The main source of data in the emails comes from the department’s bi-weekly CompStat meetings. CompStat is a multilayered approach first used in the New York City Police Department that uses Geographic Information Systems to map crime and identify other problems.

I was invited to attend WSUPD’s Dec. 1 CompStat meeting to get a better sense of how the department is using technology to reduce crime. As a superfan of “The Wire,” I expected the meeting to be a little rowdy—cops hate “juking the stats,” right McNulty? But I found this meeting to be a pretty straightforward, professional affair. The atmosphere wasn’t so much rowdy as convivial, and the only concession to stereotypes was a box of fresh Dutch Girl donuts.

“Rough night last night?” a plainclothes officer asked his uniformed colleague as he … Next Page »

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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