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January 11, 2005
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Crime Mapping Technology Pinpoints Crime Trends, Helps Police Focus Resources in N.J.

Camden, N.J. - City police say new technology that allows them to gauge high-crime areas and descend upon them has already paid off.

The crime mapping technology, which analyzes calls for service and police reports, enables the department to pinpoint crime trends in certain sections of the city. When a high-crime area is established, officers are reallocated there for a 28-day stint to "suffocate" crime.

"We will be in your neighborhood and in your block soon," said Chief Edwin J. Figueroa at a news conference Monday afternoon. The program has been in operation for the past three weeks.

The crime-mapping software, as well as "comp stat" (computer statistics) meetings to discuss the statistics and react to them, has resulted in a 32 percent reduction in reportable crime in a sector of East Camden and a 14 percent reduction in calls for service citywide in the last three weeks.

If data reports a sector is still receiving the most calls for service after the initial sweep, it will be saturated with a police presence for another 28 days.

When the busiest sector is identified, the city will send in both plainclothes and undercover officers to begin infiltrating and dismantling drug sets. Uniform officers will then move in large numbers by walking beats, motorized patrols and bike patrols.

''Pool our resources''

Putting such large numbers of officers into one area will not jeopardize other areas of the city, Figueroa said.

"We must focus and pool our resources so that we can take each neighborhood back systematically," he said.

Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi said the crime-mapping and comp stat initiatives are two of several to be announced in the next 30 days.

"This is the crown jewel," Sarubbi said of the crime mapping technology. "It will be the catalyst by which we make the city safer."

Sarubbi also plans to create higher police and security visibility among forces in the city''s downtown district. A crime hot line will also be in operation shortly, he said.

Positive steps

Last week, U.S Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced that five federal agencies will help the police department fight crime in Camden.

Deputy U.S Attorney Lee Solomon has dealt with law enforcement in the city for almost a decade. On Monday, he said the department is taking positive steps toward curbing crime.

"I don''t know any organization in law enforcement that is better at fighting urban crime," said Solomon.

According to Figueroa, the crime mapping technology and comp stat meetings are running with no additional costs and with current manpower. The mapping and comp stat system are based on the same system used in Baltimore.

Camden had the ability to map crimes prior to the new technology, but according to Capt. Patrick Hall, commander of the bureau of information and technology, the system was archaic and only one individual in the department had the training to use it.

Hall said all commanders in the department will be trained.

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