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Police database pinpoints crime

Ben Godar

With a network of data just a click away, Burbank Police officials

believe they’ve given officers the tools to reduce crime in the city.

The Crime Analysis Tracking System -- or CATS -- a network of


crime data software, went online in February of 2001. The system

allows every Burbank police officer to access and review crime

reports as soon as they are filed.

Police traditionally have had access only to periodic reports on


crime trends, and Lt. Kevin Kraft said that a single crime analyst

usually reviewed the information.

“With about 300 employees, we prefer to think we have 300 crime

analysts in the Burbank Police Department,” Kraft said.

Kraft, who developed CATS, said it is basically an updated version

of Compstat, the system LAPD Chief William Bratton recently

introduced to that department.

Even though the system is only about two years old, police


officials believe it has already helped put more criminals behind

bars. Last year, the first full year the system was in use, the

overall crime rate dropped by 4.3%.

The tracking system lets police know what crimes are taking place,

where and at what times, and provides suspect descriptions, Kraft

said. Armed with such information, officers are able to mobilize when

and where crimes are likely to take place.

Sgt. Bruce Speirs likened the way officers use the system to the


way a fisherman works the areas where the fish are most likely to be.

Having access to more extensive information about crime trends as

they develop he said allows police to be more proactive.

“Instead of just showing up and taking reports, we’re able to work

an area and prevent crimes,” he said.

One instance where Kraft said the system yielded direct results

was last year, when officers noticed a pattern of car thefts and auto

burglaries around the 600 block of Hollywood Way. After doing some

surveillance, police arrested a group of people who were working the

area, and Kraft said investigators were able to clear between 40 and

50 crimes.

The information from CATS also brings an added measure of

accountability, and Kraft said patrol officers are expected to

aggressively pursue criminals in the districts where they are


“We expect everyone to step up to the plate and solve crimes with

this tool,” he said.