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No Boundaries in War on Crime : * Cities’ Street Violence Database Should Be Funded, Expanded

Most lawbreakers don’t pay attention to city boundaries when they commit their crimes. Police, wisely, don’t intend to, either.

In an unprecedented cooperative effort, seven city police agencies in Orange County have decided to band together to catch habitual criminals and reduce street crime by sharing information.

The idea of a central crime index is not new to law enforcement or Orange County. The county district attorney’s office for years has had central indexes to track organized crime, fraud operations and drug informants. The information gathered in these files is available to all police agencies.

Police departments have been ready to lend a helping hand. But for the first time a group of departments, intent on bringing to officers on the street information as up-to-the-minute as possible, are seeking $1.85 million in matching funds to establish a regional Crime Analysis Unit under the state’s Career Criminal Apprehension Program.

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Police in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Westminster realized that they had common problems and similar demographics and crime patterns. They also recognized that they were not taking full advantage of the edge that closer coordination and modern technology offer to help catch culprits who commit similar crimes.

If seven police agencies formally working together is a better way to go, then maybe 10, 15 or 20 could be even more efficient in curbing crime. But as a first effort, the thought was to make the unit small enough to be manageable as a demonstration project, but large enough to be effective. That’s a sound approach.

The state should approve the grant request. And if the new Crime Analysis Unit works as well as expected, other cities should be added and its database expanded.

The war against street crime should know no boundaries.

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