Chicago Fighting Crime L.A.-style

Sean Malinowski was invited by Supt. Eddie Johnson to help the Chicago Police Department (CPD) create new, high-tech crime-fighting centers. Malinowski, a former lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department who adopted predictive analysis as a way to prevent shootings, was tapped to help build Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) with the University of Chicago. At the support centers, cops and civilian analysts monitor gunshot detectors, surveillance cameras and other data to pinpoint where crimes occur and where they might happen next, according to the Sun-Times.

Malinowski oversaw the opening of the CPD’s support centers in the Englewood and Harrison districts in February 2017. Four other districts — Gresham, Deering, Ogden and Austin — got the centers later in the year. Six more are supposed to open by the end of this year. As the centers opened, the numbers of violent crimes fell. Shootings in Englewood dropped 35 percent in 2017. Murders declined by 15 percent across Chicago.

Meantime, civilian analysts from the University of Chicago were flown to Los Angeles to learn how the situation rooms work there. When they returned, they worked alongside Chicago cops.

The support centers are $1.5 million rooms inside police stations. Information from ShotSpotter gunshot detectors and surveillance cameras is displayed on large monitors. Beat officers have real-time access to the information via cellphone and in-car computers, alerting them to the spot where a shooting occurred.

Cops on the street began realizing the nerve centers could tell them what was happening at a crime scene before they rolled up in their cars — or that a shooting had just occurred at an intersection blocks away from them.

As part of the new program, district commanders also encouraged officers to do more community outreach to get citizens involved after decades of mistrust, Malinowski says.

This story is about the Police Reform and Community Relations strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.