Larry Godwin sets the bar high and the citizens of Memphis are safer because of it.
In 2005, then director of police services for Memphis, he reached out to University of Memphis criminology professor Richard Janikowski, and together they developed the Crime Reduction Using Statistical History methodology. Godwin, who was appointed as deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security in 2011, agreed to share crime statistics with Janikowski and his staff, who in turn provided statistical analysis of incidents involving gangs, guns and drugs.
Later the city had the idea of developing a crime center. Godwin visited New York City’s real-time crime center and was impressed — to a degree. “It was real time, but it was limited,” he said.
Memphis’ original crime-center plan started small, consisting of a few cameras and small office to monitor them. “We were going to set up some monitors in there and put some limited-duty officers in there to look at stuff that comes in,” Godwin said.
But he envisioned more. “I had a vision: 50 monitors with rear projection screens; officers sitting at monitors feeding [officers on PDAs] immediately and those officers responding; a ticker tape of crime running every minute.”
In 2008, Godwin’s vision became a reality. “Remember that ticker tape I talked about?” he asked. “It’s tracking crime every four minutes.”