Predictive Policing Blog

"Just Driving Around" Isn't a Patrol Strategy

Here at PredPol we speak with dozens of Police Departments and Sheriff's Offices across the country every month. When we ask them what their patrol strategies are, we're usually told that it's left to their officers' or deputies' discretion. In other words, they don't have a set of tactical guidelines that tells their patrol team where to patrol and what crime types to be targeting. This raises issues of effectiveness, transparency and accountability for any agency.

Having a patrol strategy means proceduralizing several elements of patrol operations and implementing them across the agency on a daily, shift-by-shift basis. There are at least three elements of an effective patrol strategy. The first is using historical and current data to define crime types to be targeted. At PredPol we call these "missions." The second element is finding patterns in crime data to define where and when to patrol in order to micro-target those crime types. The third element is using AVL/GPS or officer checkin/checkout data to ensure that these targeted areas are being patrolled. This allows the agency to close the loop to ensure officers are actually targeting those locations.

Here's how your agency can use PredPol to create an effective patrol strategy:

1. Define your agency's missions.

PredPol's analytics tools show command staff and crime analysts your current and historical crime trends. This is presented at an aggregate level as well as by patrol area and by shift. You can see which crime types are increasing and then drill down to see where and when this is happening. This allows you to set specific missions, such as a "Vehicle Crimes" mission focused on the shopping district on weekdays, a "Personal Crimes" mission for the downtown area on weekends, and so on. How you set your missions and the crime types you choose to include is totally up to you. Our customers generally review missions on a monthly or quarterly basis.

2. Make targeted patrol recommendations.

Once you have set up your missions, PredPol does all the heavy lifting. Our platform uses artificial intelligence to find patterns in historical and current crime data. From that data, we automatically identify environmentally driven crime locations (such as bus stations or the bar and restaurant district) as well as clusters of crimes associated with the behavioral patterns of specific individuals. (We do that using just crime type, crime location and crime date and time - we don't use any personally identifiable or demographic information). These locations are those deemed to be highest risk for that day and shift. In other words, this is where officers are most likely to be effective while on patrol. Our targeted recommendations are presented as a series of bright red boxes on a map interface, making them simple to use and understand.

3. Monitor and manage your patrols in real time.

We give command staff insight into exactly how effective their officers are at deterring crime in the areas they patrol. If you have AVL or GPS devices, PredPol can let you use that data to manage and measure patrol performance. You can ensure targeted boxes are being visited and for how long (what we call "dosage" at PredPol). When crime rates aren't going down as expected, you can check historical dosage levels down to the shift and beat level to see how much and how often boxes are being visited. You can also create historical patrol heatmaps from the top level of your jurisdiction down to the beat level to ensure areas aren't getting overpatrolled or underpatrolled. This degree of transparency into patrol operations gives agencies a more objective way to manage their officers and hold them accountable for their performance.

To learn more about creating a patrol strategy for your department:

Schedule a PredPol demo!