Predpol Predictive Policing Blog

Using Custom PredPol Boxes for COVID-19 Patrols

Written by PredPol | Apr 8, 2020 7:09:53 PM

It is becoming clear that COVID-19 is upending everything in our daily lives. It’s
changing how we shop, socialize, go to school, and in most cases how we work. But
regardless of the changes it is wreaking in the world today, the job of the patrol
officer remains the same: keeping the community safe. Calls for service can’t be answered from your home office and you can’t proactively patrol a neighborhood from behind the safety of a computer screen. Patrol operations require officers to be out on the streets while the rest of us shelter in place.

Even though the mission and responsibilities remain unchanged, the environment is
different. Patrol work has become even more dangerous. As we are now seeing in
the news, the risk of infection to officers is quite high, largely because their job is to
interact with broad segments of the public. Some departments are now
trying to minimize officer interaction with the public as much as possible.
This underscores a critical point: crime prevention is one of the most effective
ways to reduce officer risk of infection. Each crime prevented means one less
instance of responding to a call for service, one less set of interviews with witnesses,
one less exercise in evidence collection, one less round of questioning of suspects. It
means one less arrest, one less trial, one less person placed into custody. Each time
you eliminate one of those steps, you greatly reduce the risk of officer exposure to
COVID-19.

As mentioned in our previous blog, with shutdowns and social distancing in place,
COVID-19 is causing a change in the patterns of crime types, crime locations, and
crime dates and times. Officers need to be able to anticipate these changing trends
and try to get ahead of them.

Even the kinds of things officers do on patrol are starting to change. A few months
ago, few of us could have imagined that officers would be asked to keep people away
from parks or beaches on a sunny day, or to break up gatherings of a dozen people
who are just sitting around having a picnic. Activities like enforcing stay-home
orders for infected residents are also new territory for most officers.

PredPol wants to help officers stay safe and effective, and fortunately we have tools
that can do that. In particular, our custom boxes feature lets command staff add
their own boxes anywhere they need to on a patrol map. Here are some of the ideas
our partners have come up with:

- Use custom boxes to designate an area deemed to be at high risk for infection
to responding officers.

This could be based on a high number of potential
Covid-19 patients near that location, or other environmental factors, such as
a higher number of people whose circumstances put them at risk in that area.

- Use custom boxes to identify residences subject to stay-home orders.

Most people gracefully accept these orders to protect their fellow citizens, but not
everyone cooperates, so rolling a cruiser through their neighborhood
periodically can remind them of their obligations.

- Use custom boxes to identify areas prone to gatherings disallowed under
shelter-in-place or social-distancing rules.

These can include parks, beaches, parking lots, ball fields, and other areas where problematic behavior has been observed. By identifying these locations in each patrol area, command staff can ensure that they are being adequately patrolled. These box locations can be varied by time of day and day of week based on perceived risks. Like it
or not, law enforcement officers have also become de facto public health
officers, and enforcing social-distancing requirements helps keep the whole
community safer.

Please click the button below to contact us for more information on how we can help you keep your community safe during this difficult time.