Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Here We Go Again
lies, damn lies, and statistics.

click to enlarge

Mark Twain, Benjamin Disraeli and a few others have been credited with the famous utterance - "There are three types of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics." Whoever said it, they pretty much nailed it. Another way of saying it is, "figures don't lie, liars figure." I bring this up only because of the latest crime reports regarding Memphis. Now, I'm not going to sit here and try to make the case that Memphis, TN is the safest city in the world, but. . . how about a little accuracy. There is no need to make it worse than it is.

I read the story in today's newspaper, which said Memphis is the 2nd most dangerous city in America, and I knew that number could not be correct. I knew that because I knew the crime rate had fallen last year, and I knew the numbers from last year. It turns out that Memphis (the city only) is ranked at number 8. The metro area, which includes several counties in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee is ranked second. That's a horse of a different color. You can't blame the MPD for crime in other jurisdictions. As a matter of fact, I think the rise in crime in the outlying areas, may well be the fault of the aggressive policing by the MPD. Ask almost any police chief who operates within a 50 mile radius of Memphis and they will tell you Blue Crush has sent the criminals their way.

My prediction is that Memphis will get safer as we move forward. I think the advent of such programs as Blue Crush, CyberWatch and the things we are developing at the Real Time Crime Center will force the crime rate down. I made the prediction that crime would fall when I first learned director Godwin had gone to New York to see their RTCC. Some might think otherwise, but I believe our RTCC is actually better.

CyberWatch is informing the public as to the crime near them, and it provides an easy way for the citizens to send tips in on the criminal activity near them. At the RTCC, we are "reverse engineering" arrests, particularly those of burglars. An analysis of data has shown that most burglars commit their crimes within a 1.5 mile radius of where they live. So, we are developing web-based tools that allow the officers to look for people who have been arrested for burglary, or any crime, or who are on probation/parole, or are a sex offender, or are out on bond, etc. This tool will give the officer a ready-made suspect list. This is just one example of some of the things we are doing that will result in us making more arrests.

We will also be deploying LPR (license plate reader) cameras all around the city and installed in police cars. These cameras will read the license numbers on cars and capture the location, date and time. We will cross-reference the license number with multiple databases such as, sex offenders, gangsters, warrants, stolen cars, etc. Additionally, we will be deploying gunshot detection cameras for the purpose of, well you know.... I believe officers will be making a lot more arrests and crime in Memphis will continue to go down, while the crime in surrounding areas will go up. Fugitives will be moving out of town, and that means they will be plying their trade where they live.

We will soon be offering a website where citizens and businesses can register their ip based cameras. The RTCC will be able to pull any of these cameras up a view what is happening. When a call comes in to dispatch, we will be able to check a database of cameras to see if we have any that are in close proximity. If we do, the RTCC staff will be able to channel that video and/or snapshots to the officers in the field.

Needless to say, life is good for a guy who enjoys designing systems and putting things together that help the community.

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