In a recent analysis of CompStat numbers by the Santa Fe Police Department, officials caught a trend.
CompStat is a statistical method of breaking down the metadata for crimes—what time they occur, where they occur, etc.—developed by the New York City Police Department to enable cops to police more effectively with limited resources. Think Moneyball—the film about how the Oakland Athletics used baseball stats to recruit a winning team on a shoestring budget—except with cops. Celina Westervelt, SFPD’s spokeswoman, says the stats showed “we were getting nailed on Tuesdays from about 6 in the morning until about 9 o’clock in the morning.” The solution was simple: Put more patrol boots on the beat during that period.
City officials have long lamented Santa Fe’s rank as the second-worst city in the nation for burglary.
“We’re not proud of the statistic that, in 2011, we’re No. 2 in the nation for burglary per capita,” Westervelt tells SFR.
But matters have improved in recent years. This month, city officials touted an astounding statistic: Since 2010, property crimes have dropped by a whopping 20 percent—far outstripping the slower decreases seen on state and federal levels. In April 2010, the city recorded 184 property crimes, compared with 88 this April, according to SFPD. Taken as a whole, SFPD recorded 472 fewer property crimes last year than in 2010.
(Property crimes include residential, commercial and auto burglaries, along with attempted burglaries and unlawful entries).
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and Police Chief Ray Rael have attributed the drop to new tactics like CompStat, as well as SFPD efforts like Operation Full Court Press—an effort that began last summer to direct police manpower and resources to targeting property crime.
“A lot of evaluation of the statistics” go into SFPD tactics, Rael says. “Identifying trends. And we’re assigning manpower in order to deal with it.”
A decline in property crime isn’t unique to Santa Fe. It has also been decreasing nationally, with an 8.3 percent drop between 2007 and 2011, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also released statistics showing a gradual decline in property crime.
City officials often mention another element of the property crime problem: drugs. In collaboration with the Region III Drug Enforcement Task Force—a multi-agency counterdrug unit funded by the federal government—local police have helped bust four drug trafficking organizations since July, Westervelt says.
“Before July, we have never infiltrated one,” she says. She adds that because of these busts, the supply chain has been interrupted, driving the street price of drugs like heroin up by as much as $500 an ounce.
As a result, Rael says, some dealers are watering down their product, while others are looking elsewhere.
“I mean, we’re always going to have dealers in the city,” he says. “Somebody’s always going to step up and try to take a vacant space in the market. But what we’re seeing is, we’re making it so uncomfortable to them that they are in fact trying to avoid directly dealing in the city. They’re, as I understand it, requesting meetings outside city limits in hopes that they won’t be as susceptible to being caught.”
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