Neighborhood Specific Crime Prevention through Community Engagement, Crime Data, and Police Services

SeattleThis blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in community policing by police departments throughout the U.S. as part of IACP’s Community Policing: The Next Generation and Task Force on 21st Century Policing projects. The projects showcase innovative and effective solutions to building trust and creating opportunities to collaborate with community stakeholders to increase public safety. These projects are funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Seattle, Washington, Police Department is a recipient of the 2016 IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award.

2014 brought a major refocus for the Seattle, Washington, Police Department (SPD), which involved rebuilding public trust; enhancing pride and professionalism; reducing crime and addressing quality of life issues; and adopting best business practices. This refocus created an opportunity for the department to produce shared understanding and value in the delivery of local, community oriented police services. From this fundamental concept, the Micro Community Policing Plans (MCPP) were born.

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MCPPs are tailored community policing plans for 59 areas within the diverse neighborhoods in Seattle. Community residents work with their local SPD precinct command staff to identify priority problems, analyze existing quality of life and crime data, and design individualized plans to address neighborhood-based public safety concerns. The MCPPs take a three-pronged approach–community engagement, crime data, and police services–to better service the specific needs of the micro communities within the city of Seattle. Crime data is combined with community engagement to develop the plans that allow for more efficient and effective police service.

The MCPPs allow the SPD to identify commonalities and differences within and between communities to be efficient and effective in problem solving throughout the city, while remaining attentive to unique experiences and perspectives in the individual neighborhoods. Citizen input, community perception of crime and public safety, and crime data utilized together to get at the true root of crime is what makes the MCPPs innovative.

seattle mapThe MCPPs were implemented in 2015 when the 59 (as of January 2017) micro communities were determined based on conversation between SPD precinct captains, community groups, and focus groups of community members, using survey data and pre-existing geographic boundaries. The plans were developed from the beginning with involvement and feedback from residents, business leaders, and police officers on the beat in those specific precincts.  Each micro community was evaluated and assessed based on findings from survey data, focus groups with community residents, and crime data.

Here is one example of a micro community policing plan: in the East Precinct, Central Area micro community, community members have identified residential burglaries as an issue. The micro community policing plan to reduce residential burglaries includes providing crime prevention tips to block watches and the East Precinct community and utilizing precinct resources to identify and apprehend known suspects.

The MCPP initiative was supported through a partnership comprised of the Seattle Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and private foundations/corporations through the non-profit Seattle Police Foundation. In addition, Seattle University’s Department of Criminal Justice works with SPD and the MCPPs to evaluate and assess the impact of the plans.

The MCPP initiative was evaluated through a 2014-2016 pilot study that involved a process evaluation and development and administration of Seattle Public Safety Survey that solicited citizen feedback regarding micro community public safety concerns. The survey results help inform the precinct captains, for each of the micro communities, where there is difference between the public’s perception of crime and the reality of crime. That awareness helps the micro communities in developing strategies for addressing both the community members’ perception of crime and the reality of crime.

The results of the Seattle Public Safety showed an increase city-wide from 2015 to 2016 in the public safety and health of the community through the measures of police legitimacy, social cohesion, social disorganization, and fear of crime. The implementation results from the overall study of the initiative show that the Micro Communities Policing Plans were a success in terms of creating a ground-up approach to improving public safety that became integrated into day-to-day police operations.

Would you like to know more about the Seattle Police Department Micro-Community Policing Plans?

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