Providence Adjusts Anticrime Strategy With Far Fewer Officers On the Street


Crime hasn't dropped by much in Providence, but the number of police officers has, reports the Providence Journal. The foot patrols are gone. There are fewer patrol officers, fewer detectives, fewer narcotics officers, fewer people investigating gangs and violent crime, and fewer officers posted in the city's public schools. The number of police districts, developed 10 years ago when the department adopted a community-policing strategy, has dropped from nine to seven and is expected to drop further. Eighteen higher-ranking positions remain vacant.

With fewer officers and less money, the police administration has adjusted how the department responds to violent crime. Police Chief Hugh Clements Jr. and Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré say they've sought ways to be creative — using crime data to predict the city's hot spots and follow patterns, developing a better system of tracking gangs and gang associates, and employing a crime analyst, on loan from the National Guard, to help them prevent and investigate crimes. There are 412 officers on the books, down 15 percent from a high of 487 in 2008-09. While the number of shootings is the same, there are fewer homicides: 11 as of Sept. 11, compared with 15 this time last year. And, with 95 guns seized in crimes so far, the department could come close to last year's total of 130 guns — even with fewer officers on the streets.

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