The Norman Transcript

July 30, 2013

Police analyze city to reduce crime, traffic accidents

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Crime and car accidents are unavoidable incidents in every city. However, there are ways to analyze and consequently reduce the number of those incidents. The Norman Police Department is doing just that.

Police presented Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) during a Norman City Council study session Tuesday.

The goal of using the DDACTS approach is to reduce crime, accidents and traffic violations within Norman to reduce social harm and improve the quality of life, said Jason Redden, Norman police intelligence analyst.

Some of the dimensions of analysis include:

· What type of accident or crime is occurring.

· Who the victims or targets are.

· When the accident or crime is occurring.

· Where the accident or crime is occurring.

· How the accident is occurring or what the accident factors are.

For example, Redden said everyone could probably name two bad intersections in Norman. Police look at when and why those accidents are occurring at those intersections, or in the instance of crime, what factors are making an apartment complex a bad apartment complex.

The city of Norman is split into eight different police beats based on population density and geography. In two of those beats, police identified two zones, a west zone and an east zone, where they found accidents and crime to be particularly concentrated, so they focused their efforts there.

Statistics from 2011 show that more accidents happened in the west zone, while more criminal activity happened in the east zone.

The borders of the west zone include 24th Avenue Northwest, Main Street, Berry Road and Lindsey Street. The borders of the east zone include 12th Avenue Southeast, Alameda Street, 24th Avenue Southeast and Lindsey Street.

Redden said since police concentrated their efforts in both of those zones, the number of accidents and total crime has dropped.

“We’ve seen decreases across the board,” he said.

By being able to identify those problem areas, police know where they should be when they’re not out on a call. In addition, Redden said while police are making their presence known, the “bad guys” are less likely to commit vehicle larceny or a burglary or drivers will tend to pay closer attention to their driving.

If those problem spots move, so will officers. Even if there are incidents that aren’t occurring in a “hot spot,” police can still identify problems quickly.

Redden said there was an incident where someone was stealing tires repeatedly in a certain area and they made an arrest within a week.

“The bad guys are going to realize, we don’t want to be here,” he said. “They should be scared to come here because of what we have.”

Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey said there is more communication on all levels with DDACTS.

The chief said that now police officers can look at files and see what’s going on. Officers on the day, evening and midnight shifts are talking to each other about what’s going on in their beats.

Not only is there more communication between shifts but also between supervisors, officers and the community. Everyone is working together, Humphrey said.

Redden said when they first began DDACTS, no one was coming by his office. Now he has seen a change in mentality. Officers know where to go to make the biggest impact when they’re not out on a call, he said.

The Norman Police Department is sharing their data with the University of Oklahoma Police Department and Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office to help show them where some problem spots might be, as well.

Humphrey said the main focus is to look at the data, know where to assign their initiatives and resources and continue to reduce the level of accidents and amount of crimes.

For more information about DDACTS, visit ddacts.com.