In the FBI’s 2017 Crime in the United States report, results showed that property crimes have declined steadily for the past 15 consecutive years. Despite this decline, polls show that 60% of Americans still believe there is more crime in the US than there was a year ago.
In our talks with law enforcement officials across the country, we learned many police departments are feeling the weight of Americans’ belief in the uptick of crime.
Lieutenant Ben Mixon has been an active officer in the law enforcement field for 13 years, working to keep communities in Georgia safe. Using his insight into the law enforcement field and our conversations with police departments across the country, we’ve rounded up some points police officers wish neighborhoods knew about crime in their communities.
Property crime rates are going down, but don’t get complacent
Don’t use the decline in property crime numbers as an excuse to leave your doors unlocked or your shrubs untrimmed.
While officers don’t want residents to develop anxiety or paranoia over home safety, they still want communities to stay alert.
One of the contributing factors to the decline in property crime is an increase in available technology and in community education on crime.
“This, coupled with community/law enforcement partnerships are the true paths to a sustainable reduction in crime,” Lt. Mixon said.
More and more police departments around the country are implementing local community education programs that train and educate citizens on how to recognize, prevent, or report neighborhood crime. These programs help citizens enhance the effectiveness of their Neighborhood Watch groups and help solidify relationships with law enforcement.
“Police officers just want to keep the communities where they work safe, and those communities include neighborhoods,” Lt. Mixon said. “This means we all have to work together — private citizens and public law enforcement officials — to share information as both parties receive it in order to achieve safer neighborhoods. It is understood that law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to be in every neighborhood at once. Because of this, we rely on neighbors, drivers, and dog walkers to be our eyes and ears.”
This means speaking up if you see something. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2017, only 36% of property crimes were reported to police.
Police need the help of citizens to prevent and solve crimes.
Law enforcement doesn’t want to track individuals
Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) are already widely used by law enforcement on public streets to apprehend stolen vehicles and criminals. But the rise in technology availability has brought ALPRs to private communities.
Now used by both businesses and neighborhoods as security systems, many police departments around the country have implemented public-private partnerships that allow police to know where in the city privately-owned security cameras exist in the event a crime occurs close by.
One common misconception about ALPRs is that the data collected could be used to track innocent individuals.
“Even though we’re public law enforcement officers, we are still private citizens ourselves,” Lt. Mixon said. “We understand resident privacy concerns and want them to know law enforcement does not access privately-owned ALPR data unless permissions have been granted. Nor do we use the data collected by publicly-utilized ALPRs to track the whereabouts and actions of innocent individuals.”
“Law enforcement officials are governed by strict policies in their agencies that determine what information is sharable,” Lt. Mixon said.
Police officers want to be noninvasive
When neighborhood crime occurs and police get a call to a neighborhood, they know their flashing blue lights in a home owner’s driveway disrupts the neighborly peace.
Often, a police car inside a stable neighborhood leads to a sense of unrest for residents no matter the nature of the call.
“When residents see blue lights flashing outside their window, it can be a disturbing experience,” Lt. Mixon said. “People expect their homes to be a safe haven and we want to help keep it that way.”
With the help of technology, police can work with residents to more efficiently solve a case by gathering evidence without having to pay a home visit.
This is where Flock Safety comes in.
Today, Flock Safety’s ALPRs are in communities around the country, helping police solve 1 case a day. Communities with Flock have reported a 30-50% reduction in crime since installation.
Our system allows residents to capture images of vehicles with or without a license plate, and can send alerts to police if a reported stolen vehicle passes by a camera.
And we do so with utmost respect for privacy.
Our cameras have laid the foundation for less blue lights in driveways and a stronger community relationship built on trust.