IMPD officers using new data system to pinpoint trouble spots around the city

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers are now able to better pinpoint trouble spots in our community, because of a new data system that’s part of the city’s ongoing crime reduction plan.

It’s called “Harm Spot Policing.”

“It’s an algorithm that can forecast victimization. It takes 7 years’ worth of crime data and social disorder data; things like overdoses and drug uses,” IMPD North District Commander Michael Wolley said.

The information is then given to officers so they can better patrol their beat and help keep people safe.

The new model is part of a partnership with researchers at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI.

“Historically, cities have focused on just crime incidents but the reality of it is the police are responsible for a number of different things beyond just crime,” O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs Director of Criminal justice and Public Safety Associate Professor Jeremy Carter said.

Dr. Jeremy Carter, Dr. George Mohler, Dr. Rajeev Raje and the Department of Computer and Information Science are doing the research.

The model tracks things like suicides, drug overdoses, even traffic accidents; which all are situations IMPD officers deal with across the city.

“Yes we are stopping cars. Yes we are trying to get guns and dope off the street, but it also provides you community engagement opportunities,” Commander Wolley said.

Wooley says the new tool isn’t taking away from the art and craft of being an officer, but it’s another resource to better serve the public.

“All the application does is puts you in a place and then it’s your job as an officer to use your problem solving skills, to use the knowledge in communities and the beats you police to do something in those places,” Carter said.

Since officers started using the new model they’ve been able to hand out more than 700 drug service cards.

The cards are handed out to people who live in communities where drug use is high; so someone can potentially find help.

NSF Smart and Connected Communities grant is funding this project.

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