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Predictive Policing Leads to Large Drop in Burglaries
Reported burglaries have fallen by 13 percent or more in areas of Santa Cruz County, bucking a regional trend. Usage of PredPol, a predictive policing software program, is credited.
In the city of Santa Cruz, reported residential and business burglaries dropped 14 percent from January to June 2012 compared with the same period in 2011.
Meanwhile, Santa Clara County cities such as San Jose, Sunnvyale and Palo Alto have seen burglaries increase 30 percent or more in the same period.
Law enforcement leaders over the hill said reduced police staffing has led to more of a focus on violent crime and less attention to property crimes. Yet Santa Cruz police spokesman Zach Friend said all agencies are facing more work with fewer resources. The question is how to deal with it.
"Even with staffing reductions, you have to look at new ways to cope," Friend said.
If police don't catch burglars, "You can expect that person will go back to that hunting ground," he said. "We think it's important that we still apply resources to property crimes."
Friend credited Santa Cruz police's predictive policing system (PredPol), which places officers in city areas at specific times based on earlier property crimes. Since Santa Cruz police started it in July 2011, property crime has dropped overall, Friend said.
This article originally ran in the San Jose Mercury News.