Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Area Command initiative

Last year, I assigned now-retired Deputy Chief Kevin Masters to look at our department’s deployment to determine the best way to combat violent crime. He created a proposal that we modified to best meet the department’s and city’s needs. This resulted in the creation of the Area Command concept. One small group of officers started employing this idea a few weeks ago in the East Patrol Division. The below article in this month’s Informant newsletter explains more about that initial piece and what we hope the future of Area Command will be.

A new initiative will target violent crime in the city’s worst-hit areas with an added boost to speed up prosecution.

Chief Darryl Forté approved an East Patrol Division pilot program called the Area Command Unit (ACU).

“The ACU will attack violent crime while simultaneously building and maintaining positive community relations,” according to a January 14 department memo. “The ACU will rely on real-time data from several sources and will partner with Kansas City No Violence Alliance (KC NoVA) and the Law Enforcement Resource Center (LERC).”

Captain Todd Paulson of the East Patrol Division currently is commanding the EPD evening shift and the Area Command pilot program. He will transfer just to ACU soon.

“The unit will work closely with other units on the department, as well as city and county services such as city codes and Jackson County COMBAT,” Captain Paulson said.

The pilot unit is made up of a sergeant, five officers and a detective.

“It’s nice because we have officers who have come from different areas and with a whole lot of different experiences,” said Officer Bryan Britten of the East Patrol Division.

Having a detective assigned directly to a patrol support element is unique, as well.

“This allows the unit to file its own cases and apply for search warrants and to speed up the prosecution process to make a quicker impact on improving neighborhoods,” Paulson said.

He said the officers will be active in self-initiated activity with a good knowledge of the people involved in violent crime.

“They need to be self-motivated, hard-working and be able to interact with the community in a positive way,” Paulson said.

Unlike regular patrol officers, ACU officers will not focus on calls for service, but will work specific targets within the entire division that are involved in violent crime.

The Area Command pilot program shifts start between 2 and 4 p.m., 7 days a week.

“The units will be able to move and address violent crime issues in other divisions should the need arise,” said Paulson.

ACU has several aims.

“Our main goal is to get as many guns off the streets as we can,” Officer Britten said.

Captain Paulson said ACU also wants to reduce violent crime while partnering with the community to accomplish it.

“By focusing on and prosecuting those directly involved in violent crime, we will be able to interrupt the criminal networks in the city,” he said.

The Area Command pilot program already is proving to be a success. Just in January, they recovered: 11 guns, three stolen vehicles, 19 grams of cocaine, 56 grams of meth, 534 grams of marijuana, 12 ounces of PCP and $3,032 in cash. ACU will grow to encompass the other inner-city patrol divisions.

“The overall unit is already expanding to the Central and Metro Patrol Divisions, hopefully by the end of February, and will consist of a captain, four sergeants, 18 officers and three detectives,” Paulson said. “Each unit will be housed at its respective division station to stay responsive to the needs of each station and to be able to interact and pass on information to the officers in those divisions.”

The Area Command initiative is approved for one year, and at the end of the year, it will be fully evaluated and recommendations will be made at that time to dissolve or expand the unit, according to the Jan. 14 memo.

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