A new crime analyst is spending his first days on the job at the New Bedford Police headquarters. Dr. Michael Sloan will be creating new ways to capture information officers gather each day, then look for trends and other markers officers can use to be more proactive.
WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro about why he created the position, and what he hopes Sloan can do for officers patrolling city streets.
Eident: Let's talk a little bit about why this position is important and what you're hoping Dr. Sloan will do in this new position.
Cordeiro: It is a cornerstone of the foundation of our department in terms how we're moving forward. We need to become a more data-based, driven organization to ensure efficiency and then we maximize the use of our resources. In essence, we have a ton of data and we're not utilizing it to forecast potential upcoming crimes so that we can put human beings where they need to be in a more proactive and efficient manner.
Eident: Can you explain a little bit where that data is coming from?
Cordeiro: The majority of the data that comes in is through our field offices out on the street that are responding to calls for service. You know, house breaks, robberies shootings, stabbings, larcenies, even overdoses. That information is all taken at the field level.
And then, what we really need, is it's hanging in the system. We need someone to crunch those numbers up and digest them and then put them back out in a fashion that our commanders can look at and adjust their resources. There are other pieces of that data that we have not been looking at that Dr. Sloan has brought to our attention for example, how does weather play into this with a variety of crime trends? There are other environmental factors that we have not been always considering, and that's what we hope Dr. Sloan brings in with his discipline and his training.
Eident: Is this something that other departments--did you look into other departments and do they have similar positions, or are you kind of jumping onto a new branch here as far as how you do policing?
Cordeiro: So, the largest cities typically have moved on this front. For example, Boston has a team of crime analysts, and I suspect New York does as well. Camden, New Jersey, I believe, has just moved to a team of analysts. But cities of our size are moving towards this direction.
Eident: Is there a specific type of response you feel that your officers go to more than say others?
Cordeiro: We do a nearly 100,000 calls a year. So, the tricky part of all that is a lot of volume, and it's trying to look into that volume to find the trends as they develop throughout the year. Because they change. So, sometimes there are segments of the year where we're seeing an increase in house breaks, or car breaks, or violent crime. So, the trick and the challenge for Dr. Sloan is going to be to identify those trends at the beginning of its uptick so that we can intervene and then level off that trend back down.
Eident: Has this prompted you to think about other devices or techniques that you might deploy with your officers in order to gather more information?
Cordeiro: So, we've been thinking about that prior to disposition. Actually, we've been deploying a, I think, a pretty proactive camera deployment throughout the city. So, we're looking to put additional cameras up, and the placement and purchasing of those cameras should be data-driven by where we're going to get the most bang for our buck--where these cameras need to be positioned, where the crimes are being either committed, and the best routes of escape, so that we can capture either that crime where it's taking place, or the individuals either entering into the crime scene and then exiting the crime scene.
Eident: Thank you so much Chief. I really appreciate it.
Cordeiro: Absolutely. I appreciate you taking your time and inviting us on your station to speak with your listeners.
*This conversation was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.