Update - The newsletter for the University of Memphis

February 2010 Briefs

Bygone Days, The 1940s had its share of ups and downs with celebrity visit, WW II. Read more

Brain Drain? Healthy lunch habits can mean a more productive day at the office. Read more

Ring Container Technologies Inc. has made a $300,000 gift to establish the Ring Companies Professorship Fund in the Herff College of Engineering at the U of M. The Professorships will allow the Herff College to retain highcaliber faculty.

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U of M's Janikowski gains distinction as crime 'reducer'

The Commercial Appeal named Dr. Richard Janikowski, associate professor of criminal justice, as one of the 10 people to make a major impact in Memphis during the past decade. Recent statistics show an overall drop of 12.9 percent in crime in Memphis in 2009 as compared to 2008 with Janikowski’s “Blue Crush” initiative credited as being part of the reason for the decline.

Janikowski discusses the work that led to his designation:

Dr. Janikowski, The Commercial Appeal recently named you one of the “10 People over the decade whose contributions impacted Memphis.” That is a rather hefty honor, especially since only 10 were chosen? How do you feel about receiving this honor?

I was pleasantly surprised and it is always gratifying to have your work recognized as having had a beneficial impact on the community. However, the people that really deserve the recognition are the men and women of the Memphis Police Department: MPD Director Larry Godwin, the past and current command staff, and particularly the officers whose courage, dedication and hard work every day make our city safer.

You are credited with being the “guru” behind the Blue Crush initiative that has made a positive impact on reducing crime in crime “hot spots” in the area. For those who aren’t aware of what Blue Crush is, can you give us a description of the program?

Crime in Shelby County has decreased with MPD officials crediting Janikowski�s Blue Crush initiative as one reason for the decline.
Crime in Shelby County
has decreased with MPD officials crediting Janikowski’s Blue Crush initiative as one reason
for the decline.
Blue Crush (Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History) is a Memphis Police Department data-driven strategy developed in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Center for Community Criminology and Research (C3R). It is a results-oriented philosophy for effective policing that applies a straightforward guiding principle: Target police resources in the right places on the right days at the right times and crime will be reduced either through deterrence or apprehension of offenders. The strategy involves the adoption by MPD of data-driven decision-making through expanded data analysis in collaboration with C3R, departmental retooling by refocusing existing units and, where appropriate, creating new specialized units, emphasizing crime reduction as the responsibility of everyone in MPD, and incorporating evidence-based practices in the areas of hot-spot policing, investigation and apprehension of repeat offenders and problem-oriented policing.

What kind of impact has it had?

Since its implementation in 2006, serious crime, by the end of 2009, decreased by almost 18 percent in the City of Memphis. Moreover, these declines are continuing in 2010. While these statistics are important as a measure of effectiveness, the most critical fact to remember is that this represents thousands of people whose lives were not damaged because of crime.

Has it been as successful as you envisioned?

Recently, the police director (Godwin) and I were discussing this very question. We both agreed that strategy has had a far greater impact on crime in the community, given a variety of constraints, than we had thought feasible when it was being developed. In addition, the Memphis Police Department through the efforts of many individuals has undergone a fundamental change in organizational culture with the philosophy of data-driven decision-making and accountability becoming embedded in the culture of the Memphis Police Department.

Was Blue Crush your idea or how did it come about?

It was an outgrowth of a meeting called by MPD Director Godwin in 2005 to develop an innovative strategy to address rising crime rates, a trend occurring not just in Memphis, but throughout the nation. Based on work we had done with MPD over the years, he asked me to work with MPD commanders in developing a data-driven strategy based on the best research available on effective policing. Development of the strategy was a collaborative effort involving members of the command staff, precinct commanders and supervisors and line officers. It involved an iterative process of testing tactics and data analysis, evaluating effectiveness and revising approaches when necessary.

How many years has Blue Crush been around?

It was piloted in 2005 when the Memphis Police Department launched a series of pilot operations to test new policing tactics and the use of innovative technology to enhance its crime analysis capacity. The effectiveness of the tactics was evaluated both by MPD and the University of Memphis’ C3R. C3R also worked with MPD’s Crime Analysis Unit to develop enhanced crime analysis packages to target crime patterns and crime hotspots. The success of these operations laid the foundation for creation of MPD’s Blue Crush strategy in early 2006 using targeted operations with expansion of the strategy citywide at the end of 2006.

Is there anything new in store for Blue Crush and if so, what?

Blue Crush is a living, evolving strategy. In partnership with MPD, we are constantly reviewing the effectiveness of various tactics, exploring new directions and approaches and implementing new facets of the strategy. A central feature of Blue Crush has been the improved level of crime analysis that underlies effective deployment of police resources. One significant evolution of the strategy was creation of MPD’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) in collaboration with C3R.

Recognized last year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police with the Excellence in Technology award, the RTCC is a state-of-the-art regional center for interoperable data sharing and crime analysis providing a four-pronged approach to fighting crime: (1) multiagency and multi-jurisdictional data sharing, (2) video surveillance, (3) enhanced crime analysis and crime mapping capacity, and (4) investigative support.

How long have you been at the U of M and what is your educational and professional work background?

I have been at the University of Memphis for almost 22 years. It has been an exciting time during which I have watched the University evolve to becoming a leading metropolitan research institution with very strong urban affairs-oriented programs demonstrating the substantial impact that researcher-practitioner partnerships can have on community issues. During these years, I have been involved in a variety of rewarding collaborations involving a myriad of community stakeholders, from government agencies to community groups. These experiences and partnerships have made me a better professor than I could ever have been. They have deepened my understanding of our community, the framework and constraints within which policy must be developed, and the social issues confronting us as a society.

Anything else you would like to mention about Blue Crush?

It has become a model, both locally and nationally, for implementing data-driven policing. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office used Blue Crush as the basis for development of its Data Smart Policing approach as has the Millington Police Department. Law enforcement agencies from across the nation have been coming to Memphis to be briefed and trained on the strategy and the new Real Time Crime Center. In addition, an increasing number of law enforcement officials from other countries have been visiting Memphis to explore how the approach can be adapted in their jurisdictions.

Are there any other projects you are involved with that you wish to discuss?

We are providing research support for Operation Safe Community, a historic and ambitious crime abatement initiative developed by the top government and law enforcement leaders from across Shelby County in partnership with the private sector and community-based leaders.

The strategic plan, consisting of 15 research-based strategies, has an ambitious but achievable goal to “quite simply make Memphis/Shelby County one of the safest communities of its size in the nation by 2011.” As Memphis Mayor A C Wharton recently noted, it is the longest concerted effort in Memphis/Shelby County history to reduce crime and enhance public safety.

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