Modesto police officials say they’ve seen a double-digit drop in burglaries, robberies and vehicle thefts in the past 10 months, and they credit the department’s new policing strategies for the city’s lowest property crime rates in three years.
This year, Modesto has had a 20percent reduction in home burglaries, a 13percent reduction in commercial thefts, a 12percent reduction in vehicle thefts, an 11percent reduction in robberies and a 5percent reduction in larceny.
“We are determined to drive down crime in Modesto by being more strategic with our resources and more engaged with our community, despite the fact that we’ve had a 25percent reduction in patrol staff and hefty budget cuts over the last year,” said Police Chief Galen Carroll in a news release.
The department has been using predictive policing data, trying to learn about areas hit by crime and when to patrol those areas. Police have combined that predictive policing with improving dialogue with Modesto residents through one-on-one conversations, social media and town hall meetings.
The predictive policing software uses statistics and mathematical modeling to predict where crimes are likely to occur, down to an area as small as 500 by 500 feet. The software also is being used in such cities as Seattle and Los Angeles.
“With fewer resources at our disposal, we are fortunate to be able to better pinpoint where crime is likely to occur,” Capt. Rick Armendariz said in the news release. “We are finding we are now more often in the right place at the right time.”
The department began using the predictive policing software, called PredPol, in January. Police officials wanted to identify where to strategically deploy officers in the places and at the times crimes are most likely to occur. PredPol costs the department $22,500 annually.
The software helps analysts and officers determine areas with the highest probability of a crime occurring, using an algorithm based on the location, time and date of past crimes. Police officials said it does not include any information about individuals or demographic groups.
Jeff Brantingham is a co-founder of PredPol and an anthropology professor specializing in criminology at UCLA. He said in the news release that there is no single strategy that can eliminate crime altogether, but dozens of cities in the country are using predictive analytics to reduce crime and improve safety.
“We’re pleased, but not surprised with the results, as they are mirroring what we are seeing in other communities across the nation,” Brantingham said about the recent decline in Modesto crime.
Police ask anyone with information about suspected criminal activity to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can email through the Crime Stoppers website, www.stancrimetips.org, or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.
Town Hall Meetings
The Modesto Police Department will hold town hall meetings to discuss its community and predictive policing strategies:
▪ Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1813 Oakdale Road in northeast Modesto
▪ Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Trinity United Presbyterian Church, 1600 Carver Road in northwest Modesto
▪ Nov. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hughes Elementary School, 512 N. McClure Road in southeast Modesto
‘Coffee With the Cops’
The Modesto Police Department has two Coffee With the Cops events coming up:
▪ Wednesday from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Starbucks inside O’Brien’s Market, 4120 Dale Road, in northwest Modesto
▪ Dec. 16 from 7 to 9 a.m. at Denny’s restaurant, 1525 McHenry Ave., in central Modesto
The Modesto Police Department invites residents to speak with police staff in an informal setting. The intent of these events is to improve communication between residents and police officials. Residents are encouraged to share their concerns and suggestions and ask questions.