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Jonathan Lewin

Bureau Chief of Technical Services, Chicago Police Department

Jonathan Lewin, Bureau Chief of Technical Services, Chicago Police Department
|  Jonathan Lewin’s profile

Work with technology for nearly 30 years and you’ll see a lot of change. But when you work with technology as a police officer for one of America’s biggest cities, you’re bound to be on the cusp of transformation. Jonathan Lewin started as a beat cop in 1991, but within a year, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) needed someone to help initiate community policing. Lewin, who had worked with computers in college, developed software that would convert mainframe data into a crime mapping program.

That tech project was the first of many for Lewin. He helped CPD get computers into police cruisers to enable better access to more data in the field. By 2000, he pitched the MacArthur Foundation to help revitalize CPD’s website in part by publishing data that was never shared publicly before. That led to the creation of a data warehouse that integrates and shares data across departments, including law enforcement agencies statewide and in Cook County. The effort won the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University’s Ash Center in 2007.

But the most important breakthrough in policing technology has just begun, according to Lewin. Starting in 2017, the city has been integrating a large swath of video and gunshot surveillance, incidents and arrest data, license plate reader information, criminal gang activity and more into a platform that’s accessible at Strategic Decision Support Centers throughout the city. When they first opened, the centers combined technology, analytics and police knowledge, leading to a huge reduction of the most violent crime: shootings, which have dropped by 37 percent in the worst areas and 21 percent citywide.

“We finally have a way to tie everything together for smarter policing,” said Lewin. “It’s what I’m most excited about, and it’s the culmination of decades of blood, sweat and tears.”
With more than 20 years of experience covering state and local government, Tod previously was the editor of Public CIO, e.Republic’s award-winning publication for information technology executives in the public sector. He is now a senior editor for Government Technology and a columnist at Governing magazine.