ANGLETON — A new visual crime-tracking model could reduce crime and traffic accidents in Angleton while saving law enforcement valuable resources, Police Chief Aaron Ausmus said.
After studying the system for more than three years and seeing its use elsewhere significantly reduce crime, Ausmus asked city council during its meeting Tuesday to consider approving the method so it can be implemented right away.
Council approved a resolution granting Ausmus’ request.
The data-driven approach to crime and traffic safety, or DDACTS, is a visual tracking tool both residents and law enforcement can access. The model collects data from incident reports and calls and maps how frequently crime and traffic accidents occur in specific places, Ausmus said. The frequency is displayed through heat-based colors.
The idea is areas with a higher concentration of crime will be more closely patrolled, Ausmus said.
“What we’ll do is look for hot spots where crime and crashes are happening,” said Cpl. Tim Taylor, a criminal intelligence investigator who has led the data collection for this model of crime tracking. “It’s a much more efficient use of our resources, and we’ll try to combat both at the same time.”
Locations around Walmart and the police department are considered hot spot areas. Out of 39,702 calls for service in one month, 717 were from Walmart and 3,737 were near the police department, data showed.
By shifting focus towards those hot spots, officers should be able to deter more thefts, burglaries and other crimes, officials said.
“This is a nationwide effort; plenty of research supports that this is effective,” Taylor said. “It’s not software to be purchased but a model to follow. It’s not something we’d have to spend a ton of money on. It uses geomapping to identify hot spots of crime and crashes.”
The DDACTS model focuses on crimes that are committed in the open, or petty crimes, Taylor said. Hot spots are determined by the number of crimes committed within a quarter-mile.
“Should we include all crimes? The answer is no because we want to take the crime we have the biggest chance to make the biggest impact on,” Taylor told council members.
While citizen-oriented policing and problem-solving policing have been a part of the department’s model for some time, Taylor said the missing piece is intelligence-led policing, which the DDACTS system fills. Together, the triad of policing methods form an efficient tool to combat crime, Taylor said.
Councilman John Wright asserted his concerns over allowing the public to see where the department’s officers would be patrolling, but both Taylor and Ausmus said they want the transparency as a step to try to deter criminals.
“Make no mistake, we still will impact the other areas of the community as well,” Ausmus said. “Most criminals don’t sit there and watch Facebook. This gives us strategic advantage. We’re still everywhere, doing everything normal, still directing our resources where they need to go.”
Other cities have successfully used the DDACTS model, Ausmus said, adding the Angleton Police Department can be a leader other municipalities look to as an example if the model proves successful in reducing crime.
“Angleton will be the tip of the spear for southern Brazoria County and will make an impact,” Ausmus said. “We won’t change crime completely, but we will make an impact.”