Homicides Fall 26 Percent to Pre-COVID Levels in St. Louis

By Erin Heffernan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Shared on Police1.com

 

St. Louis police Chief John Hayden’s phone lights up — day or night — when there’s a homicide in the city.

Heading into 2021, after the city had seen a history-making surge in murders in 2020, the chief was bracing for another year with his phone abuzz with bad news.

But sometime last spring, the surge began to wane.

St. Louis criminal homicides fell about 26% last year — to 195 from 263 in 2020. That returned the city’s total to near its average in the five years before 2020. In each of those years, the city’s homicide rate led the nation’s big cities.

Still, 2021 moved in the right direction. For that, Hayden is thankful, he told the Post-Dispatch this week.

“That surge was definitely noticeable. I had a lot of sleepless nights.”

Meanwhile, St. Louis County police — the area’s next-largest law enforcement agency — investigated about 28% more murders last year within the department’s jurisdiction, which covers more than a third of the county. The 55 killings marked the most in the county police jurisdiction since at least 1984, according to department and FBI crime data.

There were an average of 36 homicides in the same area in the previous five years.

St. Louis County police Sgt. John Wall, of the robbery and homicide investigations unit, said personal feuds, domestic killings and the prevalence of guns may be driving that trend.

“There’s parts of North County where just about everybody over 12 has access to a gun,” Wall said. “So that’s part of the problem.”

Comprehensive law enforcement data on homicides for the entire county is not available, as many of the more than 55 police agencies in the county have not submitted final totals to the Missouri Highway Patrol, which compiles the state’s crime stats.

But there were at least 89 killings in the county in 2021, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s homicide tracker, which launched online this week and is derived from news coverage of killings in the region.

That compares with 114 murders reported countywide in 2020, and an average of 78 annually in the five years before that, according to Missouri Highway Patrol police data.

THE CITY DROP

St. Louis fared better than many other large cities in 2021.

Homicide totals returned to pre-pandemic levels here, while other big-city departments saw killings continue to rise following the 2020 spike.

The warmest months, which typically spark the most homicides, drove the city’s drop. From May through August last year, the city’s murder count fell by more than half to 63, compared with 136 in 2020.

Hayden said his department’s work targeting the most violent areas and people, as well as an easing of some desperation and anxiety caused by the pandemic, may be factors behind the reduction in murders.

“I think they’ll be studying that for a long time, but that’s at least one explanation,” he said.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones told the Post-Dispatch in an interview that changes her administration made in policing have moved the city’s homicide totals in the right direction.

Her public safety director, former St. Louis police chief Dan Isom, introduced new policing strategies over the summer, adding more officers on duty during high crime times and in areas where crime was spiking.

The department continued to support the “Cops and Clinicians” program launched by previous Mayor Lyda Krewson’s administration in January 2021. The program puts mental health professionals in police cars with St. Louis officers to provide resources to people in crisis at crime scenes. The program has logged more than 3,700 interactions since it was launched, according to city data.

The mayor has said the goal of the program is to improve community relationships with police and help defuse crises before they escalate to violence.

“I’ve said over and over and over again that this is an all-hands-on-deck effort that is going to take everybody doing their part, not only in law enforcement, but also in the community,” Jones said. She added: “But again, one homicide is one too many. We know that we have a long way to go.”

This year, Jones said, her administration plans to dedicate $5 million to expand Cure Violence, a violence-reduction program that hires people from high-crime areas to works as “interrupters.” They help people to find jobs and get other support while also de-escalating conflicts before guns are drawn.

Neighborhoods for the expansion have not yet been selected, Jones said. The program launched in 2020 and is operating in parts of five neighborhoods: Walnut Park East, Walnut Park West, Hamilton Heights, Wells-Goodfellow and Dutchtown.

Overall, homicides have dropped in the Cure Violence neighborhoods. Totals from all areas went from 54 in 2019, to 55 in 2020 and 30 in 2021.

CASES CLEARED

The homicide rate wasn’t the only improvement in the city in 2021.

Reports of violent crimes — homicides, manslaughter, rape and aggravated assaults — were down about 11% overall in the city through October compared with 2020, according to the most recent available data published by St. Louis police. City police changed systems for tracking crime statistics in 2021, but the Bureau of Criminal Justice Statistics found the change should typically account for about a 1% increase in violent crime totals.

St. Louis police also registered the department’s highest murder clearance rate since 2012.

City police had a clearance rate of 55% last year. That puts St. Louis on par with the national average of about 54% of homicide cases cleared, according to FBI statistics. In 2020, the city’s rate was just 36%.

Clearance rates divide the number of homicides in a year by the cases cleared that year, regardless of what year the solved cases occurred. That means the high number of unsolved homicides in 2020 could contribute to the higher clearance rate in 2021.

Fifteen cases in which police made an arrest but St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner’s office declined to file charges in 2021 are included in the 108 homicides considered cleared by police.

Hayden said he thinks improved cooperation from witnesses helped the department close more homicide cases.

“We’re getting seemingly more cooperation with folks that are telling us more information,” he said. “And so again, I think that all goes toward showing that the relationship between the community and the police is improving, when people are willing to share more.”

Average caseloads for homicide detectives also fell in the city from 10 each in 2020, to eight in 2021. Hayden redirected the department’s six gang unit detectives to help homicide investigators this year to ease the workload, he said.

Since 2016, St. Louis homicide detectives had handled an average of nine to 13 cases a year, far higher than the three to six recommended by policing experts, the Post-Dispatch reported in 2021.

Homicides in the city continue to be concentrated in north St. Louis, which encompasses eight of the nine neighborhoods with the most killings last year. About 91% of homicide victims in the city last year were Black. A gun was the sole weapon used in 95% of the killings.

Fifteen of the city’s homicide victims were younger than 17, a drop from 17 the year before.

While St. Louis trends improved, homicides were up about 6.5% through 2021 in the nation’s 99 largest cities, according to the most recent data collected by crime analyst Jeff Asher, a co-founder of AH Datalytics.

Murder was up last year in 65 of those 99 big cities.

SELF-DEFENSE CLAIMS

Within the last four years, St. Louis police have seen a jump in a category of killings not counted in the city’s criminal homicide total: self-defense.

There were 26 killings classified as justifiable by police last year. The large majority of those did not involve a law enforcement officer but rather a claim of self-defense made by a civilian, according to department data.

Before 2018, the city had averaged about seven justified homicides a year. The number increased to 10 in 2019 and 16 in 2020.

Hayden said Missouri’s self-defense and gun laws are driving the upward trend.

Over the past 15 years, the state Legislature has repealed requirements for gun permits and safety training to carry a concealed weapon. At the same time, legislators expanded legal safeguards for use of a gun in self-defense, including in 2016 removing the requirement that people attempt to back away from trouble in public before using deadly force if there is fear of bodily harm.

“People are more comfortable with making a challenge,” Hayden said. “A lot of our homicides are personal disputes and the challenge (of) self-defense is something that I think has been offered quite a bit more often.”

Adding self-defense killings into the city’s homicide count, total homicides would still have dropped 22% in 2021 from 2020.

COUNTY POLICE INCREASE

As in the city, homicides in St. Louis County are intensely concentrated to the north.

The Post-Dispatch homicide tracker found 85 of the 89 killings recorded in 2021 occurred north of Interstate 64 ( Highway 40) and more than 70% of them happened north of Interstate 70.

Wall, the county homicide sergeant, said that beyond the prevalence of guns, he thinks the rise of social media may play a role in disputes growing so heated that they end in violence.

“People are angrier. It’s getting to the point of pulling out a gun faster,” he said.

Despite the rise in killings in 2021, the county police jurisdiction’s homicide rate — about 14 murders for every 100,000 residents — remained far lower than in St. Louis. The city saw about 65 murders for every 100,000 residents last year.

The Post-Dispatch homicide tracker shows county homicides in 2021 clustered in communities near the city.

Police leaders acknowledged an increasing number of crimes spanning the city-county border when they launched a pilot program in 2020 to combine efforts in Jennings in the county and the city’s Walnut Park West neighborhood.

“Crime doesn’t know geographical boundaries, which is why it’s in the region’s best interest to address public safety together,” then-Mayor Krewson said at the time.

About 80% of 2021 homicides investigated by St. Louis County police by early December were committed with a firearm.

In recent years, Wall said a new category of cases has emerged with parents charged after their young children were killed or seriously injured through contact with the drug fentanyl.

Parents were charged with exposing their young children to fentanyl in at least four cases in St. Louis County last year, including at least one homicide. One-year-old Emya Woods died in August from fentanyl exposure.

County homicide detectives handled an average caseload of 10 to 12 cases each, and their clearance rate was high — 96%, according to department statistics.

“We put in an extreme amount of hours. That’s what people don’t understand the most,” Wall said. “These guys are canceling vacations, missing off days, missing birthdays. You work until the work is done.”

READ MORE STORIES LIKE THIS

Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Redesigning Risk and Need Assessment in Corrections

Once someone has been convicted and sentenced for a crime, corrections agencies use risk and need assessment (RNA) tools to identify how likely that person is to commit another crime or violate the rules of prison, jail, or community supervision. Correctional authorities use RNA instruments to guide decisions about programming, support, and restrictions that are intended to enhance public safety and make better use of scarce resources.

Over the past several decades, the use of RNA in correctional systems has proliferated. Indeed, the vast majority of local, state, and federal correctional systems in the United States now use some type of RNA. Despite the numerous ways in which RNA instruments can improve correctional policy and practice, the kind of RNA currently used across much of the country has yet to live up to this promise because it is outdated, inefficient, and less effective than it should be.

In an effort to help the corrections field realize the full potential of RNA instruments, NIJ recently released Guidelines for Post-Sentencing Risk Assessment.[1] These guidelines, assembled by a trio of corrections researchers and practitioners, are built around four fundamental principles for the responsible and ethical use of RNAs: fairness, efficiency, effectiveness, and communication. Each of these principles contributes to an innovative, practical checklist of steps practitioners can use to maximize the reliability and validity of RNA instruments.

The first principle, fairness, holds that RNA tools should be used to yield more equitable outcomes. When designing risk assessments, we need to address and overcome potential sources of bias. Accounting for the possibility of bias from the beginning can help shape RNAs to mitigate racial and ethnic disparities in the way people are assessed, rather than perpetuating those disparities. Disparities can also be reduced by shifting the way RNAs are used, such as delivering more programming resources to those who need them the most. Designing for fairness provides correctional agencies with a strategy for achieving better, more just outcomes.

The second principle, efficiency, indicates that RNA instruments are more reliable when they are more automated. Right now, most RNAs involve scoring each person manually on items like criminal history, demographic characteristics, dynamic risk factors, and program participation. Running an RNA on manual inputs takes a great deal of time, and it also opens the door to subjective and biased scoring. Computer-assisted scoring, in contrast, ensures that an RNA’s inputs are more consistent and reliable, which is more fair and also takes up less time and fewer resources. 

RNA instruments should not only be fair and efficient; they also need to be effective. Significant advances in statistics, data science, and predictive analytics have introduced new options for RNA tools that make better predictions. For example, machine learning algorithms offer increased predictive accuracy and overcome some of the limitations of older statistical techniques. It is also important to customize RNA tools to the population on which they will be used. Instruments built and tested with local data will perform better than off-the-shelf instruments designed for inmates from another state or jurisdiction.

Finally, beyond making technical improvements in the way RNAs are designed and applied, it is just as important to focus on their implementation. Assessing individuals’ risk must go hand in hand with increasing their awareness of the risk factors that apply to them. To this end, improved communication is the fourth key principle. We need to train correctional staff so they can explain risks and needs and translate them into a case plan with clear sanctions and incentives. Effective communication helps individuals understand how their risks and needs can be addressed with programming, empowering them to work on the factors that affect their involvement in crime. Sharing assessment information as a matter of agency policy also promotes fairness and transparency.

Reliance on these principles will produce RNA tools that reduce disparities and achieve better recidivism outcomes. Taking advantage of improved methods for designing these tools can help corrections practitioners around the country build RNA systems that are both more efficient to operate and fairer to those they assess. Still, these approaches are new, innovative, and not yet widespread, opening the way for significant transformation of the corrections field in the years to come. In the words of the guidelines’ authors, “We believe that full implementation would lead not only to more responsible and ethical use of RNA tools but also to better, more equitable outcomes for correctional populations and systems.”

About This Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ contact 2010F_10097. This article is based on the white paper, Guidelines for Post-Sentencing Risk Assessment (July 2021) by Kristofer Bret Bucklen, Grant Duwe, and Faye S. Taxman.

Notes

[note 1] Kristofer Bret Bucklen, Grant Duwe, and Faye S. Taxman, Guidelines for Post-Sentencing Risk Assessment, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2021, NCJ 300654, https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/300654.pdf.

Crime and Desistance: Probing How Probationers’ Thoughts on Crime May Inform Their Conduct

Researchers counsel caution on interpreting probationer cognitions — thoughts and thought patterns — as predictors of desistance from crime.
 

The ways that people on probation tend to think about crime can offer important clues about whether they will resume or reject a criminal life. A number of past studies have examined how probationers’ cognitions relate to recidivism, that is, a return to criminal activity. Less of the research has looked at links between cognition and desistance, that is, refraining from crime going forward. [1]

No consensus definition of “desistance” exists in the literature. Among other widely recognized meanings, desistance has been defined to be long-term abstinence from crime [2] or the gradual slowing down of offending.[3] It can refer to the act of refraining from crime or the process of becoming, or remaining, crime-free.

A recent study supported by the National Institute of Justice has generated novel findings on probationers’ cognitions informing desistance, including insight into:

  • Probationers’ beliefs motivating a desire to desist from crime.
  • The tendency of probationers’ thoughts on desistance to evolve over time — or remain static.
  • Differences between probationers’ own thinking regarding desistance and their community supervision officers’ perceptions regarding those probationer cognitions.

Taken together, the two main segments of the study yielded insights on the nature and prevalence of desistance cognitions. The study team called for caution, however, in reaching any firm conclusions on the significance of those cognitions.

Some major implications of the results, according to the researchers, are:

  • Probationers who are motivated to desist but fear that they will be thwarted by outside factors are at greater risk to recidivate.
  • Community corrections agencies should commit to helping probationers capitalize on their desistance cognitions.
  • Agencies should not be overly confident that they can identify probationers’ core beliefs driving desistance and know how to enhance those beliefs.

Background

Probation is the form of community supervision of convicted individuals imposed by courts in lieu of incarceration. Because probation occurs in communities, not correctional institutions, it presents probationers with opportunities to either return to criminal activity or access resources to help them refrain, or desist, from crime. Probationer decision-making toward desistance is an important factor informing community corrections policy and practice.

Past research has focused on cognitive decision-making toward or away from crime. Prior to the current project, few longitudinal studies have assessed how cognitive mechanisms underlying recidivism or desistance may change over time. Thus, as of the outset of the project, researchers observed, how cognitions change across time during probation was largely unknown. Research was also scant on the question of which decision-making cognitions may be stronger drivers of desistance. The study’s purpose was to investigate decision-making toward desistance.

Study Design

A research team from the University of Texas at El Paso conducted a two-phase study of desistance cognitions. The researchers engaged community corrections agencies in two locations, one in Texas and the other, a federal probation site, in a neighboring state. The first, qualitative phase, consisted of focus groups of probationers from both corrections agencies. Researchers asked the participants to reflect on cognitions that promoted positive behavior and motivated them to maintain a crime-free lifestyle, according to the report. The second, longitudinal phase included a questionnaire completed three times over the course of approximately two years by 252 probationers from Texas and 73 from a state adjoining Texas. A separate element of the second phase gauged community supervision officers’ beliefs regarding probationers’ desistance cognitions. The research team trained a sample group of corrections officers on an assessment tool measuring factors such as presence of negative probationer moods and aspects of probationer impulsivity. Finally, official corrections data were used to provide probationer demographic, criminal history, recidivism risk score, and revocation information.

Core Components of Desistance

The questionnaires completed by probationers identified core components of desistance cognitions. According to the study report, those components include:

  • On average, participants rated their cognitions as pro-desistance and anti-crime.
  • Participants generally held positive views of desistance, the need to extend effort for desistance, and personal agency (that is, capacity for independent action) to desist.
  • By contrast, most participants did not endorse strongly negative expectations for desistance or beliefs that their efforts to desist will be thwarted.
  • On average, participants were found to have higher positive mood states than negative mood states.
  • Participants did not view themselves as strongly impulsive.

The findings on desistance cognitions were qualified, however, by the researchers’ determination that there was limited evidence, in their longitudinal study, that probationers’ cognitions changed over time. They concluded that the “models suggest [cognition] stability is more common than change.”

One observed change over time, the researchers found, was that participants endorsed fewer beliefs about the benefits of desistance from crime and had less belief in their independent ability to control whether they would refrain from crime going forward.

Low positive emotion (but not high negative emotion) predicted higher likelihood of recidivism, and the sensation seeking element of impulsivity particularly predicted recidivism after controlling for other aspects of impulsivity.

Other Key Findings and Implications

Among key research findings were:

From two focus groups of probationers —

  • Probationers generally engaged in a process of desistance during probation, becoming more aware over their term of probation of the negative consequences of criminal activity.
  • Probationers were consciously aware of certain cognitions theorized to drive the process of desistance, including:
    • Engagement in cost-benefit thinking.
    • A slowing of impulsive thinking that leads to crime.
    • Endorsement of personal agency, or independent decision-making, toward desistance.

From longitudinal studies of probationers over three points in time, with community supervision officers assessing probationer cognitions 

  • Findings that cannot be explained by chance alone (i.e., statistically significant findings):
    • Individual probationers often differed from each other in their crime and desistance beliefs.
    • Probationers perceived more negative consequences of crime and fewer positive benefits of crime.
  • Notable, but not statistically significant, findings:
    • There was some evidence that participants adopted fewer beliefs over time about the benefits of desisting from crime. This finding approached statistical significance, the research report said.
    • Probation officers are more aware of circumstances in which probationers are not engaged in desistance than in which they are engaged in desistance. This finding also approached statistical significance, the report said.
    • Contrary to a study hypothesis, probationers’ cognitions tended to be stable over time, indicating stability was more common than change.
    • Probationers who expressed greater fear that their efforts to desist would be thwarted or blocked by external factors were more likely to recidivate. This finding approached statistical significance when controlling for antisocial intent.

Key policy implications of the study, according to the researchers, included:

  • Probationers may need assistance overcoming barriers to crime desistance. Study results showed that individuals who were motivated to desist but feared — perhaps accurately — that their efforts would be thwarted by external forces were at greater risk to recidivate.
  • Community corrections agencies should adopt a goal of helping probationers capitalize on their desistance motivations, such as wanting to have a greater life purpose and value.
  • Agencies should not be overly confident that they can identify probationers’ core beliefs driving desistance and know how to enhance beliefs toward desistance.
  • The research largely supported contemporary best practices in community corrections, including the need to address procriminal attitudes and poor impulse control as key predictors of criminal behavior.

Conclusion

The research team expected to find that probationers’ desistance cognitions change across time and that those cognitions predict outcomes by changing ahead of desistance and relating to behavior in expected ways. Those expectations were generally not met in the study. The study did find support for helping probationers use their strengths to desist, but cautioned that this would be challenging for community supervision officers to do. More research would be needed before developing and employing strategies for community corrections agencies to manage and reduce risk through a desistance cognition framework, the team reported.

About this Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2014-R2-CX-0009, awarded to The University of Texas at El Paso. This article is based on the grantee report “Research on Offender Decision-Making and Desistance From Crime: A Multi-Theory Assessment of Offender Cognition Change.” Principal Investigator: Caleb D. Lloyd.

Notes

[note 1] See, e.g., Edward Mulvey et al., “Theory and Research on Desistance from Anti-Social Activity Among Serious Adolescent Offenders,” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 2 no. 3 (July 2004): 213, 219.

[note 2] Shadd Maruna, Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001).

[note 3] Stephen Farrall and Adam Calverley, Understanding Desistance From Crime: Theoretical Directions in Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2006).

Effective Police Reform Means More LE Officers, Training and Equipment

Real reform looks like more funding for more positions, and more funding for more training. The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association regularly holds training conferences and offers regional training opportunities to better equip Missouri’s sheriffs, deputies, jail administrators and staff..

By Kathleen Dias, Policing the Remote and Rural for Police1

Police reform is in the air, in the news and on the Senate floor. Let’s define that phrase, and do real reform before “reform” gets done to us.

There’s nothing to lose. Doing things the way we are is leading to increasing crime rates and decreasing recruitment rates while hemorrhaging institutional knowledge as officers leave the profession in droves.

Current reform initiatives are ugly, expensive and do not work. I’ll tell you what real reform looks like. Then, let’s get it done.

Real reform looks like more funding for more positions, and more funding for more training – for every officer, everywhere, not just those fortunate enough to work for big, rich departments in cities with large tax bases. More officers means lower crime rates and emptier prisons, and that’s what everyone says they want. So let’s do it.

More officers means better coverage. It means officers can leave for training, take classes, vacations or sick days, work out, stay fit, take a BJJ class, or sleep more than four hours.

Tired cops with shoddy training make bad decisions and develop short tempers, because who doesn’t?

REAL REFORM MEANS MORE TRAINING HOURS

More training means more confident officers and fewer lawsuits. It means officers who aren’t functioning under pressure for the first time on the streets. It means officers with a chance to distinguish between someone with autism and someone with an attitude. It means officers who have used their sidearms and rifles and shotguns in low light, in a crowd, from a vehicle and from the ground, building muscle memory before they’re taking fire. It means officers who can seal a sucking chest wound while they wait for dust off during a standoff. It means a coherent answer in the courtroom when a lawyer says, “Show me your training records.”

Real reform means no green officers patrolling alone before attending an academy, ever again, no matter what. It means this is the 21st century, and policing is a profession.

REAL REFORM MEANS ADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Real reform looks like officers wearing vests that fit, not vests that are hand-me-downs from two hires back and two sizes too big or too small, or that don’t accommodate inconvenient breasts. It means rifle plates that protect officers against current threats.

Real reform looks like fewer back injuries with load-bearing external vests when managers and selectmen decide an officer’s health carries more weight than optics.

It looks like IFAKs and tac med training, no matter where the officer works and without having to beg. It looks like an officer who doesn’t bleed out from a leg wound because a county supervisor balked at spending $40 on a tourniquet.

Real reform looks like patrol cars with good tires and good brakes no matter how small the department or large the patrol area. It looks like radios that work, repeaters that repeat, and dispatchers who get time to eat and pee, so they can keep track of their officers’ locations and situations without the distraction of empty bellies and full bladders.

Real reform means extending OSHA regulations to every cop in every state. Firefighters have nationally recognized training, staffing and safety standards; cops should too because real reform means ending the snarky fallacy of “They knew what they signed up for.”

No one signs up to wear a bullseye without a chance to defend themselves or to spend days in a cartel grow full of banned neurotoxins without the veil of Tyvek and gloves. No one signs up to track that trash back to their homes and families.

REAL REFORM MEANS SUPPORTING INJURED COPS

Real reform means no cop’s family ever again gets a bill for the helicopter that evacuated their bleeding officer from a crime scene before they’re even discharged from the hospital.

It means providing care to the wounded without making them do battle alone with a work comp system loaded in favor of their employers.

It means not firing them when they get beat up, or shot, or run over and can’t get all better in six months or less. Officers are your department’s assets, not blots on a balance sheet.

Real reform means understanding that real life isn’t like TV; the good guy won’t be back by the next episode, cracking jokes with his arm in a sling. Everyone celebrates when a cop shop hires a wounded combat veteran, prosthesis and all. That veteran didn’t go from battered amputee to overcomer overnight. Reform expectations so that officers who get hurt in the service of their city get the same grace we give the veteran.

REAL REFORM MEANS FINANCIAL SECURITY

Real reform looks like pay scales that allow officers to live where their families are reasonably safe without working two side jobs. If you pay fast-food wages, you can’t complain when you get fast food quality. That’s not greed, it’s economics.

Real reform looks like secure retirement. Policing is a life-shortening field. It breaks people down physically and mentally, and the days of desk jobs for salty silverbacks are long gone.

Real reform gives the officers who do our heavy lifting a chance at a dignified life when their bodies and spirits are worn. In an economy that rationalizes millions of dollars for people who play with balls because their careers are short and hazardous, real reform uses that same reasoning to remake shoddy retirement and disability systems.

REAL REFORM MEANS BEING REALISTIC ABOUT WHAT COPS CAN AND CAN’T CHANGE

Real reform looks like changing laws that don’t work instead of penalizing officers who enforce them.

Real reform looks like contending with cops as people, instead of robots programmed to respond with emotion only when it’s convenient and photogenic.

Real reform looks like a deliberate end to the social betrayal and sanctuary trauma that comes from sending officers into the worst that humanity can wreak for years unending, and then punishing them for reacting like humans. Humans who are allowed to heal have the emotional reserves to treat other humans more carefully. That’s what everyone says they want.

Let’s do what it takes to get that.

We have long understood the nasty effects of othering, of dehumanizing, and of self-fulfilling prophecies. Real reform means pressure to apply that understanding even to cops.

Real reform means accepting that change is hard and expensive – but it’s worth it, if you do it right. Communities say they want reform now, and those communities express their priorities with their wallets as well as with their will.

If you mean it, then let’s do this – for real.

Kathleen Dias writes features and news analysis on topics of concern to law enforcement professionals serving in rural and remote locations. She uses her background in writing, teaching and marketing to advocate for professional levels of training and equipment for rural officers, open channels of communication for isolated departments, and dispel myths about rural policing. She’s had a front-row seat observing rural agencies – local, state and federal – from the Sierra foothills to California’s notorious Emerald Triangle, for more than 30 years.

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies offers current guidance on effective enforcement and policing strategies aimed at crime reduction.

The course also explores the application of crime prevention as a means of actively interdicting and preventing crime in our nation’s communities. To help connect principles to practice, this course highlights crime reduction initiatives undertaken by law enforcement agencies around the country, demonstrating how policing strategies can be applied in varying contexts.

Through video interviews and case studies, each module presents real-world examples to illustrate the strategies presented in the course.

COURSE RUN TIME: 3-4 HOURS

ENROLL NOW

About This Course

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies is designed to provide participants with an overview of best practices for crime reduction, including guidelines for implementing an organizational model for crime reduction at all levels within a police department. The course offers useful strategies for problem solving in order to develop immediate, short-term, and long-term responses to crime within a community.

Participants should expect to spend approximately 3-4 hours exploring the content and resources in this course. The design of the course allows participants to stop and resume the training based on the demands of their schedule.

This tuition-free online training was developed by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI) and was originally supported by cooperative agreement 2017-CK-WXK-001 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Primary Audience

This course is intended for law enforcement personnel at any level of experience within organizations of any size.