There’s a very interesting article at the Huffington Post claiming that increased profiling of the places where violent crime is most likely to occur, and the individuals and groups most likely to commit it, is having a dramatic effect on serious crime in US cities. Here’s an excerpt.
A growing body of criminological evidence shows that serious violence (and much other crime) is concentrated among remarkably small numbers of “hot” people and places. We now know that homicide and gun violence are overwhelmingly concentrated among serious offenders operating in groups: gangs, drug crews, and the like representing under half of one percent of a city’s population commit half to three-quarters of all murders. We also know some reliable predictors of risk: individuals who have a history of violence or a close connection with prior victims are far more likely to be involved in violence themselves. Hot groups and people are so hot that when their offending is statistically abstracted, their neighborhoods cease to be dangerous. Their communities aren’t dangerous; they are.
Hot places are likewise very few and account for a startling proportion of a community’s crime. Research on hot spots shows violence to be concentrated in “micro” places, rather than in “dangerous neighborhoods,” as the popular idea goes. Blocks, corners, and buildings representing just five or six percent of an entire city will drive half of its serious crime.
The good news is that these concentrations create high-payoff opportunities to intervene. The cities that recognize this fact are creating community-based interventions with a laser-like focus on the people and places driving violence.
In Chicago, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Philadelphia, Oakland, and Stockton — all cities where homicide, not homicide reduction, has made headlines for years — a community, social service, and law enforcement partnership identifies group members with extensive criminal histories and engages them in meetings — “call-ins” — to demand an end to violence, explain the legal risks they face, and offer them help.
. . .
The approach can transform what are often broken relationships between police and historically troubled, oppressed, and deeply angry minority communities. By making it clear that law enforcement can tell the difference between the very few even potentially violent and everybody else, and leading with intervention rather than arrest and incarceration, law enforcement wins the trust of communities and strengthens their ability to act on their own behalf and police themselves.
This is not simply an aspiration; more and more, it is a proven approach.
There’s more at the link.
I’m not qualified to assess the value of the approaches this article discusses. I fear many of them may be ‘feel-good’ panaceas instead of the strict policing that’s often conspicuous by its absence. (The perspectives of ‘street cops’ on the subject are often vitriolic – see, for example, the views on crime, criminals and law enforcement of the authors of Second City Cop, a blog by and about Chicago police.) I’m not sure whether a hard-line approach to crime hasn’t worked, or whether it’s not been sufficiently hard-line to have the desired effect. On the other hand, we’ve got to do something to reclaim the crime- and violence-ridden urban ghettoes in our major cities. If this approach can, indeed, produce the desired effect – perhaps allied with a hard-line approach to those who won’t ‘play the game by the rules’ – then I’m all for it.
What say you, readers? Have any of you noticed this sort of program in action in your area, and seen any improvement in local crime rates?