June 13, 2010 By Adam Stone
serious offenses from 48,000 per year to 41,000 annually. Driving under the influence arrests are up 72.6 percent under DDACTS and fatal crashes are down 12.2 percent.
In Baltimore's 15 DDACTS zones, burglaries decreased 16.6 percent from April 2009 to December 2009, Hardy said. Robberies fell 33.5 percent, auto theft decreased 40.9 percent and traffic stops increased 42.5 percent.
Observers say it's possible to achieve these results with little upfront technology investment.
"If your records management system is 3x5 cards in a shoebox, that's where you start," Hardy said. Many departments are still charting crashes and crimes on the wall with pushpins. So as long as the data is accurate, that can yield effective results.
That being said, better technology will result in better outcomes.
In Lafourche Parish, Patrol Division Commander Capt. Scott Silverii said his department's DDACTS effort hit an early hurdle when it kicked off in April 2009. The problem was mapping. "We could count the number of crashes and crimes, but we weren't capturing exact locations," he said. "That was our Achilles' heel."
While the department was bringing DDACTS online, managers were shopping for new computer-aided dispatch and records management tools, which they eventually acquired from Zuercher Technologies, partly to solve their mapping problem. "We had been wanting this, but when DDACTS came about, it showed us that we really needed it," Silverii said.
Spratley's office in Washoe County also made some technology investments as DDACTS took on a more prominent role. Besides its existing data-driven software, the department purchased Bair Software's Automated Tactical Analysis of Crime software. An NHTSA grant helped offset the $22,000 price tag, Spratley said. The new software can pick apart Tiburon reports for a more detailed analysis.
These technology upgrades may be typical of DDACTS newcomers, Hardy said. "You really need robust records management systems and mapping capabilities, but you don't have to have the Cadillac system in place to start," he said. "You may start to see a need for more real-time data collections and analysis. But you start with whatever you've got."
Because the technology behind DDACTS is relatively straightforward, technical hurdles to implementation should be relatively low. Challenges arise, though, when it comes to the human side of DDACTS. Spratley said he has struggled at times to win buy-in from deputies and sergeants working on the streets. "In law enforcement, people are trying new things all the time, so it can really burn guys out," he said. Cops on the beat don't need another theory of policing. "They just want to go out, catch criminals and make it a safe community."
To sway opinions, Spratley uses every opportunity to spout statistics. If he can demonstrate the hard-and-fast successes of DDACTS, he said, officers typically are more willing to go along with the program.
Some pushback may stem from those who see a new idea muscling in just as other emerging tactics, such as community policing, are beginning to take hold. But at the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Burch said the two strategies are not mutually exclusive.
"You still got to have that community connection," he said. "You can't replace all that intuition and all those connections officers make in the community. The two ideas really have to work together."
Of course, there's also the matter of money. To support surge operations, Spratley needs more feet on the street -- an added expense to the department. To bridge the gap this year, he is using a $48,000 grant received in November 2009 from the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety. Silverii, meanwhile, has hired a data analyst to compile the weekly data reports that shape DDACTS deployments.
Despite the cost of technology upgrades, possible personnel expenses and some resistance from within the ranks, those who have test-driven DDACTS say it has been highly successful in helping them smooth out bumps in the road.
"Because we are being smarter about the way we work, these officers can really focus their time, rather than just running from to call," Silverii said. "That is making us a lot more effective."
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