Jonathan Lewin, Chief, Bureau of Technical Services
Chicago Police Department
In response to an increase in crime in 2016, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) launched Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) in 2017. Developed in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department and University of Chicago Crime Lab, the program began as a pilot in two of the city’s busiest districts.
SDSCs combine technology and process, at the district level, and utilize predictive modeling to inform daily deployment missions. This provides officers with focused priorities and allows the district to monitor and modify strategies based on data. SDSCs integrate mapping, place-based crime forecasting, gunshot detection, crime cameras, and newly-hired criminal intelligence analysts to develop precision policing strategies. Officers are equipped with smart phones, which provide a real-time two-way connection between field and SDSC personnel. SDSCs provide a collaboration hub where prosecutors, officers, detectives, and law enforcement partners can work together to solve problems.
In 2017, Chicago experienced fewer shooting incidents and homicides relative to 2016. In 2018, these reductions continued. The most striking areas of success were in the first group of districts that implemented the SDSCs, which experienced the greatest decreases in homicides and shootings compared to all other districts—but in general, SDSC-equipped districts experienced greater decreases in these crimes than non-SDSC districts. Impressively, the districts that had been driving up Chicago’s violence are now driving it down.
More encouraging, violence has decreased without increasing the social costs from criminal justice administration, as overall arrests have remained steady. Thus, reductions in violent crime victimization are being realized without increased formal police action (e.g., arrests).
The primary benefits of the SDCS include: significant crime reductions, increased officer morale and dedication to the fight against crime, improved collaboration, better focus of resources on problems, and the integration of several technologies, resulting in efficiencies in CPD’s crime reduction efforts.