Monday, September 29, 2008

Arlington returning to foot patrols

The City of Arlington reports success in crime reduction after reinstating foot patrols, especially around crime-ridden apartment complexes. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that since they:
started their foot patrol, Arlington Police Department statistics show a slight drop in crime. More importantly, residents feel safer.

"Foot patrol was just a godsend," said Eleanor Powell, who directs social service programs at the Artisan. "We had a lot of graffiti. We had fights. We had vehicle thefts. But all of that is down."

The department reports similar results in the two other neighborhoods where it launched its foot patrol pilot program in December. It’s too soon to gauge results for three patrols that started in June, but the City Council recently approved funding for 12 more foot patrol officers, and the department expects to add two patrols in January, Police Chief Theron Bowman said.

Several cities across the country have resurrected foot patrols in recent years. San Francisco’s Police Department was ordered to start a foot patrol program in 2006. In Atlanta, foot patrol is the first assignment for all rookie cops. But in Tarrant County, Arlington’s program is unique. It’s modeled after one in Providence, R.I.

In a sidebar to the piece, the Startlegram published an interview with UT-Austin Prof. Bill Spelman about the efficacy of foot patrols. Said Spelman:

The best example in the country right now is in San Diego. They’re training all their officers in recognition and analysis of recurring problems. A growing number of departments are recognizing it’s great if they have some officers they can dedicate to community policing, but also that they can stretch their resources if all officers recognize that part of their job is getting out of their car and finding out what’s going on in the community.

It’s not the presence of a police officer that’s getting crime to go down, it’s what they’re doing.

1 comment:

FleaStiff said...

Foot patrols can involve anything from Shaking Hands With The Doorknobs of closed businesses to simply maintaining a police presence at sites of pedestrian congregation (usually young black males).
Most neighborhood patrols formed by citizens concentrate on foot patrols or motorscooters. Its not just a matter of finances; they know that to be effective you have to be out their walking a beat not cruising around in an air conditioned car listening to the radio.
Trouble is that even cities that introduce bike patrols usually use them for jaywalking enforcement or some mickey mouse activity like that.