The Baton Rouge Police Department plans to step up its digital crime-fighting efforts, courtesy of a nearly $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which notified the BRPD of the award late Monday.
The funds will be used for several initiatives that include: testing the use of “risk terrain modeling” as a way to identify and reduce violent crime risks, utilizing emerging social media technology to engage the community, enhancing community/police relations, and eliciting investigative support by residents.
Risk terrain modeling uses GIS technology to explore the relationship between crime and the spatial features that influence it, such as blighted property, for instance, or packaged liquor stores.
The BRPD has been working on risk terrain modeling for several years. This grant will enable them to expand their efforts.
“This will help us identify the geographic location of some of these potential risk factors,” says BRPD Sgt. Neal Noel, a crime analyst in the chief’s office. “It will also help us identify the partner agencies that can address the problem—DPW, say—and help guide us in the next direction. Then, the next step will be to use it for crime forecasting.”
The grant comes as the BRPD continues to battle high crime rates. Though the number of homicides in the city is down for the year, certain other types of violent crime—including non-fatal shootings—are up, which was noted in a statement by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R- Baton Rouge, who helped secure the grant for his district.
“Right now in Baton Rouge, the statistics show you have a 1 in 96 chance of becoming the victim of violent crime compared to 1 in 180 statewide, and a 1 in 17 chance of becoming a victim of property crime – that’s not OK,” Graves says. “This funding is going to provide the BRPD additional resources to help enhance their operations … and support our law enforcement in the work they do every single day to make Baton Rouge safer.”
The federal funds were awarded through the DoJ’s Strategies for Policing Innovation program, which supports projects to implement and test innovative approaches to operational challenges and violent crime reduction.