West Memphis police to start Operation DETER this week

West Memphis police to start Operation DETER this week

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (KAIT) - A plan to focus on violent crime in areas using data and analysis will be started this week in West Memphis, authorities said Monday.

The West Memphis Police Department is set to begin Operation DETER (Data Enhanced Targeted Enforcement and Restoration) on Feb. 1.

According to a media release, DETER is a collaboration between the West Memphis Police Department and the Violence Reduction Network
(VRN). DETER is based in part on the success of Operation LASER conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department and its research partner, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc.

DETER focuses on chronic hot spot locations and chronic offenders. DETER makes use of problem-solving techniques, evidence-based strategies, rigorous data analyses, and evaluation to determine who is committing violent crimes, where the crimes are occurring, and why the project is succeeding or not. The West Memphis community has historically experienced a higher rate of violent crime than cities of comparable size.

Based on the analysis of the data used for the project, the area that has been identified as having the most concentrated occurrence of violent crime is an area along the South Avalon corridor. This area has a north boundary of Tyler Cove and Tyler Avenue, an east boundary that stops just short of Woods Street, a west boundary just west of Tulane Street, and a south boundary of Cole Street and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Using these boundaries the area in the focus area is approximately .59 square miles and has a border perimeter of 3.2 miles.

The key to the DETER model is the internal collaboration with patrol and investigative units. An analyst in investigations will collect and analyze information and carefully determine the causes of violent crimes in chronic locations. In particular, the department will focus on areas where data show high rates of violent crime, unlawful possession or use of firearms, and reported shots fired.

In addition, the department's investigations group will work with patrol to identify chronic offenders. Some factors used to determine if a person is a chronic offender are history of violent crime and/or history of gun crimes, gang membership and/or activity, being on probation and/or parole, and number of quality police contacts. The Investigations analyst will provide information to patrol officers, detectives, and special units and will ask them to monitor their activities and, if they are suspects in crimes, make arrests.

The first step in the implementation of the project has been a restructuring of the patrol division, improvements in technology and records management, and fuller use of data and analytics.

The next step is the implementation of the pilot project in the above-mentioned area of the city, that has shown through data analysis, a higher concentration of violent and firearms-related crimes, as well as shots fired calls for service.

Based on the anticipated success of the pilot project, Operation DETER will be expanded to other areas of the city that show similar crime data trends.

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