Springfield Police unveil new crime prevention strategy
Date: 5/9/2011May 9, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD Can stopping someone who has run a red light stop violent crime? Evidence from a new policing strategy indicates it can and Police Commissioner William Fitchet and Mayor Domenic Sarno believe this approach to police deployment, which has decreased crime in other cities, will work in Springfield.
Fitchet announced at a press event on May 4 the city's police will concentrate on areas of Springfield that have both concentration of traffic violations and motor vehicle accidents involving injuries for the next three months.
A large number of police will be deployed to these areas and will concentrate on traffic violations. This strategy, Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS), has been used successfully in metropolitan areas such as Nashville, Tenn., Fitchet explained.
"[The public] will see many cruisers, will see many violations," Fitchet said of the neighborhoods where DDACTS is employed.
According to an article quoting Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas in the April 2011 edition of Police Chief magazine, deploying DDACTS in Nashville in 2008 resulted in "overall[,] major crime in Nashville ... dropped for the fifth consecutive year to the lowest level in 17 years."
The commissioner stressed the announcement had nothing to do with the recent shooting spree by escaped inmate Tamil Kirkland on April 30. He added a trial of DDACTS took place on April 30 yielding more than 180 traffic violations.
Fitchet also said this was not the exclusive deployment strategy for the department and police officers would still be able to respond to emergency calls.
Sarno said a key component of DDACTS is community leaders and residents accepting this approach and working with law enforcement.
City Councilor Thomas Ashe stressed DDACTS "is not punitive, but a collaboration."
Fitchet said the areas in the city where DDACTS will be used would be kept confidential. The locations will be changed from day to day.
"All constitutional rights will be strictly adhered to," Fitchet said of the traffic stops.
The three-month program will be underwritten by $147,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, Fitchet said.
Analyzing data and measuring results are key part of the DDACTS program and Western New England University Professor Denise Gosselin will be assisting the Police Department.