The Riley County Police Department received an international award this week for its research on hot-spot policing.
RCPD employees received the bronze award for “Initiative: Laser Point” at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia, where RCPD employees spent Oct. 19 through Oct. 23 attending educational workshops and panels.
“Initiative: Laser Point” asked the question of whether concentrating law enforcement in the most crime-ridden neighborhoods could work for smaller communities like Manhattan as the “hot-spot method” has proven effective in urban areas.
“It’s a well-documented phenomenon that most of the crime occurs in a very few places, just as most crime is committed by very few offenders,” Capt. Tim Hegarty said.
The RCPD, along with a research team from Kansas State University, spent three months last year testing out the “hot-spot method” in 48 Manhattan locations.
To conduct the experiment, RCPD used historical crime data to determine what areas of Manhattan on which to focus.
Hegarty said the hot-spot policing method puts officers on the streets for 15 to 20 minutes at a time where they make more contact with people and conduct fewer traffic stops.
“If we have an officer at the right place at the right time, it doesn’t matter much whether the officer’s inside the car or outside the car. It just matters that car is visible from one end of that street segment to another,” He said. “It’s about being in the right place at the right time.”
Since the research showed a drop of one serious crime per hot spot —which is statistically significant because of the experiment’s short duration — RCPD has since implemented hot-spot policing.
The hot-spot neighborhoods are updated weekly using an algorithm based on recent crime data, Hegarty said.
The RCPD hot-spot research was recognized along with Kent Police in the United Kingdom and the Dayton Beach Police Department in Florida.
The three agencies won the top honors over more than 30 other police departments.
The RCPD also took home another award at the conference.
Officer Matthew Droge won the department a trophy for his police skills and knowledge during a competition.
Droge earned the highest score for Taser gun accuracy and speed, officer safety and Miranda rights among other police skills.