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Tacoma, Wash., Police to Use Analytics to Reduce Crime

Tacoma, Wash., Police Chief Avery Moore presented his crime reduction plan to the city council yesterday. The plan will lean on data to identify where crimes are being committed the most.

(TNS) — Tacoma's police chief on Tuesday presented his plan for crime reduction in the city amid short staffing and rising crime rates.

Chief Avery Moore told council members at Tuesday's study session that the plan is still in process, but has already had a soft rollout for its first portion with higher visibility and confronting "hot spot" crime areas in Tacoma.

Through "hot spot" policing, Moore said, the department has focused efforts on addressing crime patterns in the city using a data-driven approach.

Part of Moore's plan included contracting with two criminologists at the University of Texas-San Antonio to assist in developing and evaluating the plan.

"From the perspective of really identifying locations where crime is being committed, the times of days, hours, the people ... that's what they do," he told the council. "That's their expertise. They're very good in it. I had a relationship with them in my former job, and again, I felt like they were what we needed here in Tacoma to really address the concerns of the residents of Tacoma."

Moore came to Tacoma from the Dallas Police Department, where he served as the assistant chief of police for the Investigations Bureau.

In referencing Tacoma's data, he noted: "When I dug into the data, about 5 percent of all street segments and intersections account for 50 to 75 percent of the crime.

"When you listen to media and other outlets, you would think that crime is throughout the entire city. That's not true," he added.

"Once we identify the times, the dates, etc., we'll be able to be specific and how we deploy our resources to those specific areas," he said.

He also noted that the most prolific 10 percent of offenders account for about 40 percent of crime committed, and he maintained that focusing on hot spots would not lead to disproportionate treatment of certain populations.

"We're going to make sure again, being sensitive to certain areas that we're not over policing, so you're not going to see the stop and frisk ... nor will you see a zero tolerance policing perspective. We are going to keep the community informed of what we're doing," he said.

He said the plan would go in three phases, with immediate, mid- and long-term strategies, and re-evaluation every 90 days.

Following the immediate hot-spot strategy, Moore said, the second phase would be "based on really engaging with our local partnership, our state partnerships and doing things focused on those violent offenders, where they're gathering, where they're planning their criminal activities. And we'll be addressing those."

The third phase "is focused deterrence, and that's where we'll be going into community. It will require not only policing, but also require other partners throughout the city," he said. "City government will work together collaboratively to come up with focused deterrent mechanisms."

A key metric of success, he noted, would be "to reduce the number of victims and to include everybody in that process," he told the council.

He also explained that tackling violent crime as a priority would ultimately have a ripple effect in also combating property crimes, a similar point he made during his meeting last week with local business owners.

"Although we're going to focus on violent crime," he told council Tuesday, "this high visibility approach will have a direct relationship to property crime," he said, with officers given the expectation to not only be highly visible but engage with the community.

"We're not going to ignore the low level crimes, but we are going to focus on those violent crimes that have that immediate impact that really cast fear throughout the city of Tacoma," he said.

According to a department release after Moore's presentation, full development of the plans continue through May with a draft ready for a council presentation in June. Once council feedback is received, implementation can begin and is set to be fully deployed by the end of 2023.

Moore said the plan also would be posted online for full transparency to the city's website.

Separately, City Council on Tuesday evening passed unanimously in its second reading an ordinance setting restrictions against spectators of street racing, an element not included in the city's first "Unlawful exhibition of speed prohibited" ordinance passed in March 2021.

Under the new ordinance, those in attendance at such events could face a misdemeanor charge offering penalties of up to 30 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine.

The measure was amended from an earlier proposal calling for up to 90 days in jall.

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