Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Community Oriented Problem Solving Analysis Project (COPSAP)

BJA Program(s): Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
State(s): ME

Grantee Agency: See below

Grant Amount/Year(s): FY 2009/$269,205

About the Program:

The Auburn Police Department, a nationally accredited law enforcement agency of 50 sworn officers, is in an urban community with 12 schools including two high schools. It is home to approximately 23,300 citizens. For nearly a century, Auburn, along with Lewiston as its sister city, were very industrious mill communities. Not unlike similar communities around the country, Auburn and Lewiston realized dramatic changes both socially and economically when the mills closed. In recent years, our populations have seen an increase of diverse ethnic residents as well as those who are socio-economically challenged. The frequency with which these populations change residences between both cities creates difficulties for the law enforcement agencies to maintain good relationships with its residents and reduce crime.

Auburn also realized that in order to support our community in the prevention of crime, our agency needed to change its approach to service delivery by becoming better organized in how we responded to over 30,000 calls for service, investigated crimes, and cleared them, even when we were tasked with uneven demands. We recognized that we needed to include a crime analyst position within the department who would have access to records management systems, other relational databases and be able to conduct crime mapping and spatial analyses using analytically-based problem solving methods.

The ARRA funding provides for a GIS Coordinator/Crime Analyst position for two years and includes training as well as the computer hardware and software needed to carry out the goals of the project. The GIS Coordinator/Crime Analyst responsibilities include reading reports for content, data mining, and performing assessments. Those assessments include possible trends both temporally and spatially to uncover emerging patterns. This critical information has allowed the Auburn Police Department to be transformed from a call/demand driven agency to a data-driven agency.

Program Successes/Effect on the Community:

The GIS Coordinator/Crime Analyst disseminates a Weekly Crime Bulletin to staff and many Law Enforcement Agencies throughout the State of Maine that contains names, pictures and pertinent information on offenders/criminals and places where crimes have occurred.

The various "beat specific" crime maps and statistics provided to officers allows minimally staffed squads to focus on those areas of the 67 square mile (largely rural) community where crime is actually taking place thus reducing "random patrols" that produced "random results".

Monthly, the GIS Coordinator/Crime Analyst provides to the members of the Command Staff, analyses, statistics, and maps with locations of crimes perpetrated within our city. The specific crimes, offenses or accidents are categorized and totaled (by percentage and actual numbers) for the current month with a comparison to the previous month. This allows Command Staff to make informed decisions as to how best to utilize our limited resources.

A future goal is to provide updated crime information and maps to the public via our website. The Auburn Police Department recognizes that the GIS Coordinator/Crime Analyst position is essential to our community and will maintain the position in our local budget when ARRA funding is depleted.

Our success was realized when, after a thorough analysis of the statistics (from the past four years) and with maps depicting the specific crimes within the city, that the Auburn Police Department was annually responding to more than 25% of its total calls for service to an inner city area which encompassed less than one square mile. That one square mile is equivalent to less than 1% of the City's total land area. In addition, 26% of all students in the Auburn School District lived in that same area.

The APD is moving forward to establish a Police Activities League (PAL) in the inner city neighborhood described above. City officials have turned over a reclaimed building and "green space" property in the area which will be used as the PAL home. An organizational meeting was held with community members that included residents, school officials, bankers, local merchants, attorneys, accountants, etc. Statistics and crime maps were provided. Our K-6 School Resource Officer, along with the Director of our Parks and Recreation Department, will be responsible for developing an after school curriculum- both education and activity based. Computer equipment and volunteer retired teachers will be available so that students will have the opportunity to complete assignments and improve their grades. Fundraising activities are underway to renovate the building and provide for the purchase of needed supplies and equipment.

In addition to a general reduction in criminality, criminal thinking and behavior, about 40% of the DRC clientele are known gang members. Through the modality taught at the DRC, these individuals also show a decrease in their criminality, also adding to the reduction in crimes against persons. Again, safety of the community, albeit on a small scale, is enhanced through the efforts of the staff and clients at the DRC.

Learn More:
To learn more about the program, please contact:
Phillip Crowell, Jr.
Chief
Email: pcrowell@auburnmaine.gov
Phone: 207-333-6650 x 2050

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