GIS AT WORK IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

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1 Frank Chiodi Minneapolis City Attorney s Office #300 Metropolitan Center 333 South Seventh Street Minneapolis, MN Tel: Fax: Presentation number: 1659 GIS AT WORK IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM Abstract: How a GIS system can assist the prosecution efforts in a municipality. Presentation of a methodology to be used by the Minneapolis City Attorney s Office to gather data about certain crimes that are committed at specific addresses or neighborhoods within the city. INTRODUCTION The city of Minneapolis was founded in 1858 on the Mississippi River, and became a large milling community. Currently there are 370,000 residents in the city but over two million people frequent the city on a daily basis. It is home to General Mills, Pillsbury and has a large technology community connected with the University of Minnesota. The city is comprised of 85 diverse neighborhoods, 170 parks, and is called the City of Lakes, as there are 26 lakes within its boundaries. Over the years, Minneapolis has evolved into many diverse communities with populations of varied ethnic, racial, cultural and economic backgrounds. Minneapolis has always attracted immigrants to share in its prosperity and this continues today with over 70 different languages and dialects spoken in its schools. Access to affordable housing and services such as transportation and medical services encourage people of limited economic means to choose Minneapolis as a place to live. Many of these people require a disproportionate level of service, such as public safety, as they many have fewer economic resources and have a higher incidence of unemployment, family pressures or other issues that bring them to the attention of law enforcement either as a victim of a crime or as an offender. Many residents also see the city s Public Safety officers as the first responders to medical or other crisis situations when they have no where else to turn. The Minneapolis Police Department is comprised of over 1,200 employees and 900 of them are sworn personnel. Their mission is to uphold the laws of the community. There are 5 police precincts including a Downtown Command. Each precinct is divided into geographic sectors, and the sector manager is tasked with reducing crime and responding to calls for service in the area of responsibility. They act as the Police Department liaison to local residents, property owners and business people. The mission of the City Attorney s Office is to prosecute aggressively all misdemeanor, and gross misdemeanor charges in the city in order to promote public safety. The office is committed to aggressive prosecution of specific kinds of cases particularly domestic violence and DWI s. The criminal prosecution division has 31 prosecutors and 28 support personnel, as resources. Recently, since the mid-1990 s, the City Attorney s Office has been asked to investigate and prosecute over 60,000 case yearly. The increase in crime in the 1990 s was due to the introduction of Crack/Cocaine. This lead to increased arrests and greater prosecution caseloads. As a result of those increases, the City of Minneapolis began to look for ways to reduce crime in the city. The goal of the Mayor and the

2 City Council was to increase real and perceived safety in the city of Minneapolis through effective law enforcement and prosecution. PURPOSE The theme of this paper is to discuss how a municipality can use GIS systems to assist in the prosecution efforts of livability crimes in the city. Livability crimes are those such as trespassing, loitering, prostitution, and graffiti; crimes that diminish livability in a neighborhood. The purpose today is to explain how the geographic tracking of arrests and prosecutions can enhance and assist in reducing crime in a large community and how public safety departments can work together to make communities and neighborhoods more livable. POLICE DEPARTMENT The police department began utilizing a new management system called CODEFOR, which stands for Computer Optimized Deployment - Focus On Results. Simply put, CODEFOR identifies addresses where arrests have been made and sends additional police resources to these addresses, neighborhoods and communities. Once an address is identified as a target for crime, police will continue to track all crimes at the address. CODEFOR is a department management tool to reduce crime in the city by using four elements essential to crime control. A. Accurate and timely information about crime that is occurring B. Rapid deployment of personnel and resources C. Effective tactics D. Relentless follow-up and assessments CODEFOR combines the latest GIS technology with field proven police techniques such as directed patrol and community oriented policing. Minneapolis employs a geo-coded mapping system that is used by police to track crime in specific sections or neighborhoods in the city. It utilizes computer-generated data to identify crime hot spots and divert police resources to these hot spots in a coordinated manner. As police focus on areas with clusters of crime they will enforce all levels of crime including livability crimes, such as jaywalking, loitering, drug dealing, graffiti, assault and others. Until the police began enforcing all crimes, many livability crimes were over looked. It is these livability crimes that the City Attorney s Office is charged to prosecute. Police resources are directed to geographic areas where there are patterns of crime. In areas where police resources are being focused, the residents of the community will be involved in crime reduction efforts through their block clubs and other neighborhood groups. They will be made aware of crime patterns and increases in certain types of crime so that they too can assist the police in alerting the officers to criminal activity in there neighborhood and community. Citizen support has been a very important part of the success of CODEFOR. Specially trained police officers and managers began using the CODEFOR management system in 1998 to chart all crimes including livability crimes, pinpointing where crime occurred, when they were happening and the frequency of the crime. In addition to CODEFOR, the police use the criteria developed for CODEFOR to develop what each precinct calls its top offender list. This is a list of individuals that commit the most crimes in the precinct. Traditionally, tracking criminals and criminal activity has been a standard procedure for all law enforcement. However, the Police Department began to realize that pinpointing where crimes occur within the community and concentrating resources in those areas is more effective in reducing crime. If crime can be reduced or eliminated in specific geographical areas of the community, then residents have a better neighborhood and sense of safety.

3 Review of arrests and resources deployment is done weekly utilizing mapping software. Officers put arrest data into a GIS based system and this system plots the crimes in the neighborhoods. Each arrest is taken from the officer s reports and entered into the system. They enter the locations of the offense by geocoding and plot them on precinct maps. Each police precinct can tell where the most crime has occurred within their area, neighborhood or sector in the past week. Then the precinct commander can utilize this information to supply resources to those areas with increased criminal activity. The utilization of mapping/plotting techniques focuses on areas with high concentrations of crimes and allows the police to keep a police presence near the trouble spots. CITY ATTORNEY S OFFICE The City Attorney s prosecution division handled 53,000 cases in the year The office has utilized various methodologies in its prosecution efforts, but traditionally, they have focused resources around fourteen courtroom trial calendars emanating from the district court services. District court personnel docket cases on these calendars and the City Attorney s Office is requested to handle cases assigned to a specific courtroom. Case preparation at arraignment court is minimal. Because the Attorney s Office only prosecutes misdemeanor crime, these crimes fall into the low-level types of crimes now identified as livability crimes. Often in the past, these crimes were ignored or dismissed because there was too many to handle effectively When the Police Department began their CODEFOR program, the City Attorney s Office began working closely with the Police Department. They hired more prosecutors and began a systematic effort to prosecute all livability crimes on the calendar. They would review the arrests made and attempt to obtain the arrest data from the various court records and court calendars. In order to assist with crime reduction efforts, the City Attorney s Office developed a team to prosecute criminals on the chronic offender s list. The chronic offender s list is a list of criminals with multiple crimes and is similar to the lists that the police established. A team called the Special Prosecution Team works with the police department to integrate CODEFOR efforts with the special prosecution team efforts to prosecute offenders with multiple arrests. One of the biggest difficulties that effect prosecution is the inability to access past crime data and to determine if an individual is a repeat offender. This is a system problem, in that the arrest data used by the City Attorney s Office is produced by the district court. This is the largest district court in the state of MN and the City Attorney s Office is the largest prosecution office in the largest Minnesota County. However, effective automated and integrated data information between the district court system, Police Department and the prosecutor is not available. It is often difficult to obtain previous offense data. By focusing on the chronic offender, it is necessary for the prosecutors to have all previous crime data. Efforts are being made to resolve this issue and progress is being made. The City Attorney s Office has now begun to address ways of using the GIS mapping functions of CODEFOR. The city of Minneapolis has had a mapping/coding process for years, but its emphasis was in Property Services area and not Public Safety. With greater emphasis on arresting and prosecuting livability crimes in neighborhoods, the City Attorney s Office has started thinking of ways to expand its scope in order to track cases by address. Once that occurs, the City Attorney s Office could prioritize its resources to continue to pursue all crimes and all arrest made at a specific address. By focusing on the prosecution of arrests at a given location, the City Attorney s Office can further the process to reduce criminal activity at a location. This will make neighborhoods even safer. With the advent of CODEFOR, and interest in geographic information systems, I began to look at ways that the City Attorney s Office could utilize geographic information systems to assist with prosecution. I was not interested in highly technical systems, terminology or processes, but I was looking for ways that the City Attorney s Office could track cases geographically. If the Police Department can pinpoint a block, address or community that has a high number of arrests, there

4 might be a way to provide this geographic information to the City Attorney s Office to aid in prosecution efforts. Given the arrest data, the City Attorney s Office could track cases by address and concentrate on prosecuting those crimes. Thus the prosecution efforts would then clean up the block. Therefore if the City Attorney s Office could deploy a system to track cases by addresses and location, and then enhance their prosecution efforts at that address, this would assist the police arrest efforts and go along way to diminish crime in a neighborhood and there by making it more livable. Attorneys can then argue in front of a judge that there should be greater sanctions based on multiple arrests and charges at a specific location. The City Attorney s Office has begun its review of this GIS application in order to determine if it can find a way to prosecute cases at specific addresses. Cleaning up crime in a neighborhood will make that neighborhood more livable. The Police Department and the City Attorney s Office intend to working on ways to use geo-coding as a way to track cases. The City Attorney s Office requires an up dated Prosecution Case Management System, (not in place). If the system were available, the office could gather data about specific crimes, and track that information back to neighborhood areas, precincts or ward boundaries within the city. Additionally, prosecution data gathered by geographic location could provide information that will allow judges to divert certain kinds of cases to neighborhood restorative justice programs and to community courtroom efforts that are now beginning to emerge within the community. This would reduce the number of cases in the courtroom as well. Criminal information generated by prosecution efforts and tracked by geographic location would enhance communities in their work with crime prevention programs. Finally, with redistricting occurring in community shifting neighborhood populations and new immigrants arriving daily, these social factors will have a direct effect on community and neighborhoods. Therefore, it is important to keep track of criminal activity in these areas, so that the city can provide culturally specific services to new community members that settle in those neighborhoods. The City Attorney s Office has more work to do to put this process in place. Cooperation among agencies is the single most important factor in making progress in efforts such as this. Each agency is an autonomous organization and is not used to sharing information and resources. However, the technology exists. It is making it available to everyone that will aid and improve the criminal justice system. The State of MN has set aside 27 million dollars to fund a program called CriMNet*. CriMNet is a state wide criminal justice initiative which is intended to develop a integrated system of sharing criminal justice data to allow all 87 counties and over 11 hundred city attorneys and police departments the ability to access information from one single data base system. The CriMNet system resulted from a horrendous crime. A young woman was brutally murdered in the rural part of the state. When her killer was apprehended, they found that he had a history of crime in a number of counties around the state, but each of the counties had no knowledge of his criminal activity at the time that he was prosecuted. The new system will have the ability to geographically track criminal activity throughout the state. I am hopeful that utilizing a geographic information system will have a positive effect on the prosecution efforts and the future livability of our community. FJC/ SJ 10/ 18/ 2001

5 * Mahogany Eller Communications Manager CriMNet Minnesota Department of Public Safety (651) mahogany.eller.crimnet.state.mn.us

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