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Look to Mexican example of crime prevention

It's A Gray Area

July 11, 2010|By Jim Gray

A crime prevention program being used in Mexico has reduced rape by 26%, family violence 34%, house burglary 22% and robbery 30%. These results are all the more impressive because the state of Sonora, just south of Arizona, is home to three violent drug cartels, and violent crime is increasing almost everywhere else around that country.

The program was founded by Santiago Roel, and when it was adopted by the state's governor they announced together that it would decrease the offenses they specified by 25%. In doing this, the program focused upon results or outcomes, which means crime statistics. But it did not measure all crimes, just the ones they specified, and it also measured the areas, days of the week, and even time of day in which those crimes were committed. So in effect they were able to produce a statistical profile of each selected crime.

Next, the program members formed a team with public officials and the police, and shared their findings, after which they implemented the doctrine of "focus, measure and decide." That means that the team members focused upon only the specified crimes so that they did not misspend their energy, measured the current statistics about just those crimes, and then decided the best approach to take for the prevention of those crimes. Once they reached that point, they only allowed themselves the option of making one of three decisions, which was to go ahead, re-think their conclusions, or ask for more information.

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In most jurisdictions, police are trained only to be reactive, which means that they respond to reports of crimes, investigate them, and then locate and help to prosecute the offenders. In other words, those police are "fighting crime." But with this different approach, the police were trained to think preventively, and then to share the information they received where it would do the most good, which is with the potential victims in the most vulnerable areas.

They then added the media as members of the team, because it's the best way to share information with potential victims. And when the statistics were published widely by the media in those specific areas for all to see, the potential victims became the final members of the team.

In addition, the media became so interested in receiving so much current and accurate data, they soon started interviewing victims and seeking out their own crime prevention specialists, and publishing additional findings and recommendations.

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