This section details VRN site local and federal partners and identified violence reduction focus areas for VRN engagement.
Compton joined the VRN program in September 2015 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2017. Compton VRN partners include the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD)—Compton Station, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office (LADA), the Compton Unified School Police Department, the City of Compton, the Los Angeles County Probation Department, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), Central District of California. Compton’s violence reduction focus areas include reducing gang violence, domestic violence, and human trafficking; increasing community collaboration; and promoting locally driven economic growth. To support these focus areas, VRN priorities for Compton include increased federal collaboration; enhanced crime analysis, predictive analysis, and information sharing; increased criminal justice collaboration; targeted gun and gang violence reduction efforts; and improved technological capabilities.
The law enforcement structure of the city of Compton is unique to VRN. The city of Compton contracts law enforcement services through the LASD and is policed by the LASD Compton Station. Compton, a city of 100,000, is one of 42 contract cities to LASD and has 75 deputies assigned to the station. A highlight of VRN assistance in 2016 was the development of a five-year strategic plan, the first comprehensive public safety plan specifically for the city of Compton. VRN Strategic Site Liaison for New Orleans, Nola Joyce, conducted multiple site visits to meet with LASD, the offices of the mayor and city manager, and community organizations to gather information and examine crime-fighting general orders, practices, and protocols utilized in Compton to inform the assessment. The plan concentrates on three primary issues identified by the LASD Compton Station, including community engagement, violence prevention and reduction, and increasing public safety to drive economic growth. The Compton partners will use this strategic plan to drive crime prevention, violence reduction, and public safety strategies moving forward.
There are 50 identified gangs and approximately 3,700 identified gang members in Compton. In April 2016, the FBI completed the first-ever gang threat assessment for the city of Compton, to identify and prioritize the most violent gangs to help law enforcement direct resources on gangs with the most imminent threat to public safety. The LASD Compton Station, the LADA, and other local and federal law enforcement partners are currently using this assessment to identify strategies to address gang violence, promote public safety, and prevent victimization. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) subject-matter experts are conducting a comprehensive gang assessment for Compton. The aim of this project is to provide detailed information on the scope and nature of gangs and gang problems in Compton. This includes the collection of community and school data, an in-depth social network analysis, and interviews with self-identified gang members. Findings will inform the community’s capacity to respond to any identified problems. The information collected will be used to make recommendations concerning the design of a comprehensive response (e.g., prevention, intervention, and suppression) to gangs at the individual and community levels.
As a result of VRN engagement, an Assistant U.S. Attorney became embedded in the LASD Compton Station to coordinate VRN activities among local and federal partners. The USAO plays an instrumental role in multiple youth violence and gang violence prevention programs, such as Cops and Kids, the Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program, and Project Restoration. In addition, the USAO launched a new summer youth tennis league project, which is a successful collaborative partnership with local public safety partners, with financial support from various scholarship and local associations. Following VRN engagement, the LADA launched Project LEAD with the Compton Unified School District to educate fifth-grade students on the basics of the criminal justice system and the importance of making good decisions.
A USMS Warrant Task Force was created as a joint operation among the LASD, the LADA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of State, the California Highway Patrol, and ATF. As of September 2016, this multiagency task force had arrested 95 individuals, seized 60 weapons, conducted 148 parole searches, executed over 10 search warrants, and seized various types of narcotics. The DEA has dedicated two agents to a VRN law enforcement task force to focus on case adoptions leading to federal indictment and to address developing cases with the goal of disrupting narcotics trafficking into Compton. The FBI and the USMS have collectively seized more than 50 weapons in Compton. The LADA designated a Deputy District Attorney to review and file all VRN cases and developed special protocols to ensure timely processing. The majority of cases filed through VRN in 2016 were illegal possession of firearms cases. The designation of one attorney to review all cases has been imperative for consistent filing across VRN cases. In addition, all firearms recovered by the LASD—Compton Station are now submitted through ATF’s eTrace system to establish firearm trafficking trends or straw purchase indicators. In 2016, 472 firearms were submitted into the eTrace system from Compton. Of those, 415 were classified as evidence, 35 as found, 14 as safekeeping, and 8 as surrendered.
Flint joined the VRN program in September 2015 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2017. Flint VRN partners include the Flint Police Department (FPD), the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Eastern District of Michigan. Flint’s VRN violence reduction focus areas include domestic violence prevention, investigation, prosecution, and services; crime analysis and technology enhancement; and addressing property and evidence collection and storage.
The FPD started posting crime commercials on social media following FBI Digital Imaging Video Response Team (DIVRT) training in 2016. Over the past year, the Michigan State Police and the FPD have utilized the DIVRT tools over 50 times to assist law enforcement in solving crimes within the Flint area. One example of utilizing DIVRT resulted in the capture of a subject within two days after a bank robbery.
As part of VRN efforts, the FPD sought to increase crime analysis capacity to reduce violent crime through the implementation of social network analysis (SNA). In 2016, Michigan State University (MSU) assigned a full-time doctoral student/former crime analyst to the FPD to focus on SNA and correlations among gang members and nonfatal shootings. To develop skills to fully implement and maintain SNA to drive operations and inform leadership, VRN sponsored an FPD lieutenant and MSU’s crime analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Law Enforcement Outreach and Education Seminar in May 2016. The purpose of this training was to help institutionalize the appropriate use of SNA in a law enforcement context. Participants learned about how SNA can be leveraged as planning and analytic tools to inform decision makers dealing with nefarious networks. In addition, several FPD officers attended additional SNA training at the NPS in December. VRN sites Flint; St. Louis, Missouri, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were selected as pilot sites to work with SNA subject-matter experts and the NPS to implement an SNA pilot training program.
In September 2016, VRN facilitated a peer exchange to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), where FPD leadership learned about the CMPD’s crime analysis capabilities and how the analysis is used to drive operations.
Jackson joined the VRN program in September 2016 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2018. Jackson VRN partners include the Jackson Police Department (JPD), the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Southern District of Mississippi. Jackson’s violence reduction focus areas include gun- and drug-related crime reduction and prevention, technology and information sharing enhancement, community engagement, and grants.
The JPD recognizes the importance of leveraging crime analysis and data-driven policing in its violent crime fight. At the beginning of VRN engagement, subject-matter experts conducted a violence analysis assessment to better understand the geographic and social structure of violence in the city. The Jackson VRN team will use the analysis findings and recommendations from this assessment to inform its VRN Strategic Plan for future training and technical assistance opportunities over the next two years of VRN engagement.
In late 2016, BJA conducted a thorough assessment of the JPD’s technology capabilities. The assessment examined areas such as dispatch software, records management software, the mobile environment, case management, crime analysis, IT support, and other related technologies. The JPD is using the findings and recommendations from this assessment to inform its VRN Strategic Plan and to identify grant opportunities.
Little Rock joined the VRN program in September 2015 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2017. Little Rock VRN partners include the Little Rock Police Department (LRPD), the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Eastern District of Arkansas. Little Rock’s violence reduction focus areas include domestic violence prevention, investigation, and prosecution services; increased information sharing and criminal justice collaboration; enhancement of crime analysis capacity; and establishment of research partnerships with the local university.
In 2016, the LRPD participated in BJA Crime Analysis for Chief Executives Training and an SNA training hosted by the NPS to help institutionalize the use of SNA in law enforcement. As a result of these trainings, the department reorganized its crime analysis unit, which is now utilizing new analytical tools, and established weekly meetings with analysts to shift their focus from data collection to crime analysis. Through its enhanced crime analysis capacity, the LRPD now identifies two priority districts that experience the most violent crime and calls for service. These districts are monitored weekly and reported on at CompStat meetings. The LRPD deploys an additional patrol car in the priority districts to be proactive in deterring violent crime.
The ATF provided National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) assistance and resources to the LRPD in 2016, which led to the LRPD’s resuming of four-hour (processing time) NIBIN entries at the State Crime Lab. In early 2016, the ATF helped the LRPD clear a 1,327 firearms tracing backlog, and as of November 2016, the LRPD had over 20 NIBIN hits, leading to numerous leads in active criminal investigations.
During 2016, Little Rock partners participated in a peer exchange to San Diego, California’s Family Justice Center to gain insight on the planning process for establishing a center; the components that drive a successful model, including local buy-in and commitment requirements; insight to community readiness; and critical issues determining whether a family justice center model is the right model for the city. As follow-up to this visit, Little Rock participated in another peer exchange to Milwaukee’s Sojourner Peace Center in early 2017 to further advance its planning process for the establishment of a Family Justice Center in Little Rock.
The Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office is an active partner in Little Rock VRN efforts. As part of the VRN Strategic Plan, the Prosecutor’s Office worked with the LRPD and the USAO to establish an improved case management tracking mechanism for federal gun cases. Since this VRN partnership, there have been 41 federal indictments.
Milwaukee joined the VRN program in March 2016 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2018. Milwaukee VRN partners include the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Eastern District of Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s VRN Strategic Plan creates a forum for continuous collaboration among local and federal law enforcement and aims to reduce firearm-related violent crime in an identified hot spot, the Center Street Corridor (CSC). The CSC is a 2.3-square-mile area that drives 10 percent of Milwaukee’s violent crime and 11 percent of the MPD’s priority calls for service. The mutual goal of the VRN partners is to achieve a 20 percent reduction in violent crime in the CSC by March 2018.
As part of Milwaukee’s VRN Strategic Plan, the partners developed a new VRN CompStat model that provides a collaborative and proactive environment among local, state, and federal partners and promotes constant communication and accountability through analysis and reporting of violent crime metrics. The interagency CompStat meeting is conducted every six weeks and is attended by executives from all partner agencies. This strategic and collaborative process has already proved effective in less than a year of implementation. In 2016, homicides in the CSC were reduced 7 percent, robberies were down 17 percent, and overall violent crime in this hot spot decreased 14 percent compared to 2015. The Milwaukee VRN strategy and CompStat process now serve as a model for other VRN sites.
In July 2016, MPD representatives participated in a peer exchange to the Denver Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) to learn about techniques and forensic-led policing strategies for addressing gun crime. In 2016, Milwaukee was awarded a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) grant to develop a CGIC. As follow-up to the peer exchange, the MPD is adopting several practices and takeaways from Denver into its current strategies, including modifying the frequency of executive summaries of successful cases, improving reporting requirements to the ATF’s N-Force (a case management system), adding a NIBIN technician to analyze investigative leads to prevent backlog, and further examining the crime gun timeline from the time of purchase to the time of the crime.
Nashville joined the VRN program in September 2016 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2018. Nashville VRN partners include the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD), the District Attorney General of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Middle District of Tennessee. Nashville’s violence reduction focus areas include improvement of homicide investigations, enhancement of domestic violence victim services, and technology enhancements.
In order to strategically focus VRN efforts in Nashville, VRN subject-matter experts began conducting various assessments in 2016 to examine Nashville’s current processes and capabilities regarding homicide investigations, domestic violence victim services, and technology. The results of these assessments will be used to create a VRN Nashville Strategic Plan for future training and technical assistance resources during the two-year engagement period.
New Orleans joined the VRN program in March 2016 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2018. New Orleans VRN partners include the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Eastern District of Louisiana. New Orleans’s violence reduction focus areas include increasing crime analysis capacity, addressing poverty and group and youth violence, lack of adequate housing opportunities, and violence associated with narcotics abuse and trafficking in a specific geographic location.
With support from VRN, the NOPD developed an investigative approach to improve follow-up capacity with armed robberies. The NOPD established weekly meetings to share information and collaborate with partners, including the FBI, ATF, and USMS, to discuss current cases, leads, and investigative strategies. As a result of this effort, armed robberies were reduced 12 percent in 2016 over 2015.
The NOPD recognized the importance of expanding its crime analysis capabilities at the onset of its VRN engagement. In 2016, VRN provided training and technical assistance resources to the NOPD on crime analysis, including peer-to-peer learning, on-site subject-matter expertise, training, and information on best practices for hiring and utilizing crime analysts. This focus on crime analysis prompted the NOPD, in part, to launch its new COMSTAT model—Management Analytics for eXcellence (MAX) in September 2016. MAX furthers the traditional CompStat accountability model by including data and measures on use of force, discipline, vehicle pursuits, community policing, consent decree mandates, and other priorities of command staff.
Newark joined the VRN program in September 2015 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2017. Newark partners include the Newark Police Department (NPD), the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, District of New Jersey. Newark’s violence reduction focus areas include gun, gang, and drug violence; police-community relations and community trust; technology enhancement, police training; and specific violent crimes, such as homicides and nonfatal shootings, aggravated assaults, and domestic violence.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance conducted an assessment of the NPD’s technology capabilities in December 2015. In 2016, the NPD addressed and applied all of the recommendations from the assessment— including improved field computers, modifications to the prisoner management systems, upgraded radio consoles, an enhanced detective case management system, and an integrated gunshot detection system with closed-circuit televisions—collectively, to improve crime-fighting capacity.
In May 2016, the USMS, in coordination with the NPD and various law enforcement agencies, conducted an operation targeting Newark’s most violent offenders. The operation resulted in the seizure of guns, drugs, and money, and the arrest of 240 violent fugitives, including 46 documented gang members and sex offenders.
St. Louis joined the VRN program in March 2016 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2018. St. Louis VRN partners include the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, and the USAO, Eastern District of Missouri. St Louis’s violence reduction focus areas include strategic enforcement of violent gun offenders, improving police-community partnerships, enhancing intelligence capacity, and improving domestic violence response collaboration.
St. Louis participated in a VRN peer exchange to the Denver CGIC with the Milwaukee VRN team. Following the visit, St. Louis ATF established a working group to prioritize ballistic information in the city. The working group focuses on strategies to increase staffing, training, and support for the St. Louis Crime Lab, which performs ballistics analysis for the city of St. Louis. Following additional training and the hiring of a new firearms examiner, the ballistics analysis processing time has been reduced to within 48 hours of recovery. Previously, it took several weeks/months to process analyses.
In addition, St. Louis VRN participated in a peer exchange to the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) in May 2016 to enhance crime and intelligence analysis capacities. Following the visit, the SLMPD conducted an orientation on the lessons learned from the peer exchange regarding capabilities of EPIC for all command staff and integrated EPIC search capabilities into its Real Time Crime Center (RTCC). During VRN engagement, the SLMPD also initiated efforts to expand the capacities of its RTCC and is seeking training and technical assistance to improve crime analysis capacities, including social network analysis and crime mapping.
During VRN engagement, the SLMPD recognized the need for a culture change to build safer neighborhoods and better relationships among police and the communities they serve. To support this effort, in July 2016, the SLMPD participated in a peer exchange with the Boston, Massachusetts, Police Department to observe its CompStat practices, community engagement initiatives, and how it incorporates community policing into CompStat. As follow-up to the Boston peer exchange, the SLMPD implemented several new programs to better engage with the community and help citizens to see police beyond the uniform and the badge. These programs include the “Gentleman’s Club,” through which SLMPD officers serve as mentors to juvenile men in a detention facility, and the “Man Up Club,” which was created as an extension to the Gentleman’s Club, through which officers and the young men from the detention facility meet with high school students to encourage positive alternatives to crime and talk about their experiences and lessons learned. The SLMPD visits the detention center and the high school weekly to continue mentoring the young adults and building positive relationships. In addition, the SLMPD recognized a need to increase outreach and support to women and started a group of female officers called Ladies Encouraging Others (LEO), who serve as mentors to women in a local facility, and established a homeless outreach program called Blue Bags with Swag Program, where the female SLMPD officers collect new/slightly used handbags filled with personal items and toiletries for homeless women. These are just a few examples of the SLMPD’s new community engagement activities and lessons learned from Boston to be creative and think “outside of the box” to build positive relationships among police and the communities they serve.
In December 2016, through VRN and the OVW, the SLMPD received training and guidance on developing a Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. The primary purpose of domestic violence fatality review is to analyze deaths and near fatalities in which intimate partner domestic violence has played a role, with the ultimate intent of preventing such deaths and near fatalities. The review process is aimed at creating a climate in which institutions and individuals will commit themselves to an enhanced response to domestic violence that is informed by the experiences of victims and survivors. This training provided the unique opportunity for government and private partners to meet in person to discuss potential strategies for addressing domestic violence fatalities. Following this assistance, St. Louis is working with state legislators to draft a law to allow the creation of a Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.
West Memphis joined the VRN program in September 2015 and is scheduled to conclude its engagement in September 2017. West Memphis VRN partners include the West Memphis Police Department (WMPD), the Arkansas Second Judicial District’s Prosecutor’s Office—Crittenden County Office, the Arkansas State Attorney General’s Office, the Arkansas Community Corrections—West Memphis Area Office, the Arkansas State Crime Lab, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the USMS, the U.S. Federal Probation, and the USAO, Eastern District of Arkansas. West Memphis’s violence reduction focus areas center on chronic hot spot locations, chronic offenders, and neighborhood restoration; enhancement of crime analysis capacity; improvement of technological capabilities; and increased local and federal collaboration.
In 2016, the West Memphis VRN team developed a new violence reduction program titled Operation “Data Enhanced Targeted Enforcement and Restoration,” or Operation “DETER,” which is a collaboration between the WMPD and VRN. Through use of a variety of analytic tools, problem-solving techniques, evidence-based strategies, and evaluation, the DETER program seeks to identify and focus on chronic hot spot locations and chronic offenders. This program incorporates strategies and lessons learned from the Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration Program (Operation LASER) out of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and its research partner, Justice & Security Strategies, Inc. Through this program, WMPD officers proactively patrol the pilot area and changed patrol schedules from 10-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts to increase staffing during times of day with more incidents of violent crime, shots fired, calls for service, etc. The DETER program will be fully implemented in 2017.
Prior to VRN engagement, the WMPD did not have a crime analysis capacity or any designated crime analysts. Following the VRN 2015 summit, the WMPD quickly reassigned a detective to a newly created law enforcement analyst position within its Criminal Investigation Division, to assist investigators and patrol officers in connecting crimes and offenders. Following training and technical assistance from BJA’s National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC), the WMPD interfaced several data sources (e.g., reported crime, calls for service, field contact database) with its new crime analysis software. The WMPD now produces weekly tactical briefs to inform both officers and external stakeholders (e.g., probation, Mayor’s Office) of various crime series, wanted individuals, and other pertinent crime information. This enhanced crime analysis capacity feeds into deployment strategies for the WMPD’s new Operation DETER model.
In July 2016, as part of a West Memphis VRN operation, eight violent offenders were arrested and federally indicted for being felons in possession of firearms. Previous convictions associated with the eight defendants include first-degree murder, second-degree battery, robbery, residential burglary, sale of a controlled substance, delivery of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, and hindering apprehension. Of the eight defendants, two were leaders of a known gang in West Memphis, the Gangster Disciples. The investigation and prosecution of these cases is a coordinated effort of the ATF, DEA, FBI, WMPD, USAO, and other local law enforcement partners. This joint effort resulted in the seizure of one assault rifle, one rifle, seven handguns, and multiple-extended ammunition magazines and eight less violent gun and gang offenders on the streets.
Because of VRN, the WMPD now works more collaboratively with state and federal law enforcement partners for violent crime investigations and prosecutions. In 2016, the ATF provided training and technical assistance on eTrace procedures and policy, which enabled the WMPD to clear a backlog of over 800 gun cases. The ATF’s Little Rock Field Office also provided training to WMPD detectives on filing federal court firearms cases, resulting in the successful arrest and indictment of eight habitual offenders with firearms and drug offenses. The USMS deputized four WMPD detectives to assist in locating and extraditing West Memphis violent offenders who flee the state to avoid arrest and prosecution. For example, in July 2016, a collaboration between the USMS, the WMPD, and the Eastern Arkansas Fugitive Task Force led to the arrest of a suspect who had fled West Memphis into Missouri and was responsible for the homicide of a 16-year-old. The suspect was extradited back to West Memphis for prosecution. “This is a great example of how a coordinated effort by local and federal partners can lead to a speedy apprehension in a case like this. The USMS has the ability to reach a network of its offices all over the United States and makes an apprehension of this type possible for local agencies,” said WMPD Captain Baker. FBI Little Rock assigned a VRN Violent Crime Coordinator for West Memphis and continues to lead the local Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The DEA Little Rock division is working with WMPD narcotics detectives to address illegal drug trafficking.
In efforts to increase community engagement within the city of West Memphis, the WMPD launched both a Facebook page and a Twitter account following VRN engagement to share information related to community events, recent crimes, and other tips and activities as appropriate. The WMPD started posting crime commercials to its Facebook page following FBI DIVRT training, resulting in the identification of suspects, which has led to case clearances. Today, in a city with a population of 25,000, the WMPD Facebook page has over 5,000 followers, and the WMPD advised that it has experienced a high solve rate in cases that are posted on social media platforms.