There’s nothing that gets to the heart of crime more directly than by frustrating and annoying the criminals.
That’s just what the Revere Police Department (RPD) is preparing to do this month with the deployment of a major new strategy in fighting crime. The new strategy is known as D-DACTS. It was developed by the U.S. Justice Department over the last several years after being piloted in numerous cities around the country.
In a nutshell, the new system stresses intensive motor vehicle enforcement at key hot spots in the city using new technology, most of which was recently purchased by the RPD. By cracking down on traffic scofflaws, the program has proven to reduce overall crime dramatically, Reardon said.
“These are the nuisance crimes and it operates under the broken window theory,” said Chief Terence Reardon. “We’ll apply that same logic to motor vehicles. It’s a method for not only reducing the numbers of accidents and car crashes, but also the overall effect has been shown to bring down crime dramatically – double digit reductions in fact. We’ll hit on the motor vehicle scofflaws; those who have no license, no insurance, no registration and those who just drive poorly. Those people are mostly the same people who are committing crimes.”
Using crime data analysis, Chief Reardon said they would pick certain times of the day to take one sector car off of routine patrol and conduct what will be called directed patrols. Those directed patrols would most likely involve officers setting up at a fixed location and using a radar gun and automatic license plate readers to make numerous motor vehicle stops.
“Some of the technology we have now is unbelievable, such as the license plate readers,” Reardon said. “We have four of them now and we want to have one in every cruiser. Having four is ahead of the curve for a department our size. That technology can run thousands of plates in the time a police officer can run 10. It’s a huge leap in technology. I think it’s a game changer, really.”
To start off the program, Reardon said they would hit the Broadway area. Already, the command staff has been trained in the new strategy, and patrol officers are now getting briefed on the implementation. By mid-November, the chief said they would be ready to conduct their first directed patrols.
“Our plan is to first start it on the Broadway corridor from the Lynn line to the Chelsea line,” he said. “Much of the crime and hot spots are on Broadway – where they are negatively impacted by shoplifting in the retail outlets. We already know Rt. 107, particularly on the Marsh Road, has a high rate of accidents, many serious or fatal crashes, and we know it’s an area they drag race. It’s actually a perfect laboratory because when you get on the road, you can’t get off.”
He indicated that to help with staffing, they might consider doing joint operations with Saugus and Chelsea Police Departments.
He said the RPD has been hampered by staffing shortages for quite some time, and the new strategy is motivated by a desire to be more efficient – to find a new way to reduce crime that takes less work and utilizes new technology. In the end, he said that it just isn’t possible to conduct police departments the old-fashioned way.
In fact, he cited a well-known public safety study called the Kansas City Police Study, where researches found that the old model of driving around in a cruiser to give a police presence doesn’t necessarily work. That is what Revere has been doing for some time, and Reardon said it has to change.
“What most police departments do is put cars in particular areas and have them drive around trying to find trouble,” he said. “Not only did they find it didn’t reduce crime, it also didn’t improve citizen satisfaction to see cruisers driving around. You would think the mere presence of police would be a factor in controlling crime, but if you look at the data, you get a very different outcome. Our problem will be maintaining our patrols so we can respond to calls for service, doing the maintenance … Somehow, we have to fit these directed patrols in there.”
For most, such a new strategy of catching the bad guys doing minor things – pushing them elsewhere and sending a message that Revere is strict – seems like a great idea. But one word of warning; many times regular citizens get caught up in such intensive patrols. Sometimes major enforcement operations sweep up the good with the bad.
“There will absolutely be some push back as soon as we start doing it because you have people who will get caught up in this and they will want to know why we aren’t going after the more serious criminals,” he said. “The reality is it does effect serious crime because it gets to the person driving without a license and the person who is driving intoxicated…There will probably be some push back from the courts too because when you do more traffic enforcement, you get more traffic hearings.”
In the end, Reardon said he is hoping that the department can execute the strategy with full confidence, and that the results end up as good as they have in other communities.
“Ultimately, if we find out what has been found out in other jurisdictions, it will be worth it,” he said. “Even if you do this an hour a day, you get the message to the public. You can start it on Broadway and then you move to Bennington Street and on and on. And people will get the message that Revere is serious about enforcing traffic violations and about reducing accidents.”