The city’s efforts to fight crime through “predictive policing” is showing results, with several areas seeing reduced robberies, aggravated assaults and thefts, Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade told the City Council on Monday.
Predictive policing, Andrade explained, is a method of preparing and deploying officers to areas or neighborhoods where crimes are likely to occur.
Having officers “in the right place at the right time” has led to the detention of suspected burglars, he told council members.
“Predictive policing is working from what we can see because, evidently, we’ve had people in the right places.”
The officers are using their experience and knowledge, data from “hot spot” crime mapping and the help of citizens through Neighborhood Watch programs to prevent crimes, Andrade said.
While overall crime is up slightly from last year – 0.4 percent – several specific crimes have declined, he said.
Robbery is down 19 percent; aggravated assaults with guns is down by 30 percent; and assaults with knives are down 50 percent, he said.
Auto thefts and thefts also have declined, he said.
Crimes that have increased in 2016 are attempted forcible entry, some burglaries and unlawful entry without force, he said. Rape also is up 9 percent, but “what it means is we’re getting people to report it more,” Andrade said.
The chief credited organizations at UC Merced and in the community with helping raise awareness of the importance of coming forward to report sexual assault.
The chief said the department is working on allowing Merced to process rape evidence kits locally rather than send them to Fresno for analysis, which, he said, adds to the costs.
Andrade’s presentation came before council members voted to approve a contract between the Police Department and Merced College, which will have officers provide security at the campus. The contract replaces one with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
The contract will be for one police captain who will act as the college’s police chief. The captain will be paid by Merced Police Department, and the college will reimburse the city each year for about $172,700. The agreement will last until 2019 with the option to be extended one year.
The new contract was approved on a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Noah Lor absent.