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Initiative: Laser Point Research Summary

On October 2, 2012, the Riley County Police Department began a new patrol deployment called the Laser Point Initiative, a strategy designed to reduce crime and disorder in neighborhoods with traditionally higher crime rates. Research has established that crime tends to cluster in small "hot spots," and there are effective strategies that the police can employ to help reduce crime at these hot spots (Hot Spot Policing Can Reduce Crime /National Institute of Justice). The Riley County Police Department first began implementing geographic policing strategies in February of 2010. With the help of crime mapping, geographic areas of high crime were identified and targeted for extra patrol to address crime, traffic, and nuisance problems. Independent research by a team from Kansas State University's Sociology Department indicated that this strategy was responsible for subsequent decreases in crime.

Current research suggests that the police can be even more effective at reducing crime by focusing on smaller hot spots for very short periods of time, so the Riley County Police Department developed the Laser Point Initiative by identifying hot spots for crime and crime-related calls for service throughout Manhattan, Ogden, and Riley County. On a weekly basis, the RCPD's crime analyst selects new hot spots by time of day and day of week, and this information is distributed to Patrol Officers. Officers assigned to Laser Point hot spots focus on quality of life issues, as well as crime and traffic problems. Preliminary results from the Laser Point Initiative show reductions in both crime and calls for service in the targeted hot spots. We hope that by visiting more places with a higher frequency, we can have a greater impact on crime and make Manhattan and Riley County a safer place for everyone. It should be noted that officers not assigned to the Laser Point Initiative will still conduct normal patrol activities, to include high visibility traffic enforcement at high accident locations.

The ultimate goal of the Laser Point Initiative is to make the best use of the Riley County Police Department's resources in accomplishing its mission of reducing crime and improving the quality of life for the citizens it serves. The research team at Kansas State University will remain a partner with us to examine the results of Laser Point and access its effectiveness. We will also strive to keep the public informed of what our police officers are doing and why.

If you have information about any crime or safety issues in any part of Manhattan or Riley County, please call (785) 537-2112, which is the main line for the Riley County Police Department. If you wish to provide information anonymously, you can call Crime Stoppers at (785) 539-7777 or 1 (800) 222-4477. You can also visit www.manhattanrileycountycrimestoppers.com to learn how to send an anonymous web or text tip. Finally, you can follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RileyCountyPD

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K-State Today Article