Money Short, Sacramento Tries to Get More Efficient with “Hot-Spot” Policing Experiment


The Sacramento Police Department has begun an ambitious experiment to drive down crime on some of the city’s most problematic blocks – without adding any officers or dollars to the force, says the Sacramento Bee. Embracing the national trend of evidence-based policing, the agency is borrowing from several research studies that have found that the presence of a police fficer in a “hot spot” – for as little as 20 minutes every day – can dramatically drive down crimes like prostitution, drug-dealing, fights, and car break-ins.

It’s all done in the course of an officer’s regular patrol duties. When the less-violent crimes are stifled, the theory goes, police can then focus on bigger issues. “You’re going to reduce those calls for service that get generated and waste an officer’s time,” said Sgt. Renee Mitchell, who is overseeing the 90-day pilot project. “You’re basically making (police) more efficient.” The project is an example of the department trying to attack crime creatively – and practically, given tough economic times, said Chief Rick Braziel. The “hot-spot policing” model gained attention after a 1995 study in Minneapolis by researchers Lawrence W. Sherman and David Weisburd. That yearlong study found that targeting a city’s worst blocks with a concentrated – but brief – police presence can drive down “soft crimes.” In that study, total calls for service dropped 13 percent, and soft crimes dropped 16 percent.

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