As the landscape of policing changes across the world, the Faribault Police Department is looking to get ahead of the curve in implementing strategies that allow its officers to reduce the number of violent acts of criminal behavior.
One way in which the City believes it can truly start driving down these types of incidents is with more advanced technology.
From a wireless camera network targeted on high-crime areas, to fixed license plate readers, and real-time data centers, law enforcement agencies are having tremendous success in using enhanced technology in successfully solving crimes in a much quicker, and more efficient manner.
This comes after many communities across the U.S. are seeing in an increase in violent crime.
In Faribault, it’s been relatively consistent year over year, but its violent crime rate is still higher than many of its neighbors. When you compare Faribault’s annual violent crime statistics to its neighbors – Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna, Northfield, Red Wing and Winona – there were 65 in Faribault versus the average of 46 for its neighbors. These types of incidents involve everything from murder to domestic assault. And while the data doesn’t tell the full story, as it leaves out many contributing variables, including poverty, mental health, drug use, recidivism, and the lack of intervention services, the Police Department is committed to adopting new and community-specific strategies to begin reducing acts of criminal violence.
The largest obstacle for most rural communities – like Faribault – is the financial resources available, which is why Chief John Sherwin asked Sgt. Brandon Gliem to approach the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the leading source of federal justice related funding for states, tribes, and local governments, with an innovative crime reduction strategy.
As part of its Rural and Small Department Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, Gliem pitched the new strategy, termed TARP (Targeting Adult/Adolescent Repeat Perpetrators), which is focused on using the following objectives to reduce crime: technology, collaboration, prevention and enforcement.
After being tasked with pursuing the grant, Gliem was less than hopeful knowing that nationwide, only 32 entities receive funding. However, the Faribault Police Department’s multi-disciplinary and forward-thinking strategy resulted in a grant award of $300,000 – the full amount requested, and an amount the Police Department was reluctant to ask of its taxpayers.
With the grant, the City plans to install downtown cameras, in addition to purchasing crime mapping and forensic software, crime processing tools, and fixed license plate reader technology, among other items. Once fully launched and implemented – likely in 2024 – TARP-designated officers have the ability to focus much more effectively and efficiently on crime-heavy areas within the City. Like most police work, there’s only certain times and places in which the software is able to used, but leaders know in talking with larger cities that these tools will improve their success rate in which crimes are solved.
While most of the funding will go toward technology, that’s only one piece of the strategy; and leaders know what complements it could be just as helpful in reducing crime rates – by impacting youth and adolescent individuals early on before crime becomes part of their story.
The City plans to form a focus group, made up of officers and criminal justice partners directly involved in adolescent and adult violence prevention. This team will represent victim advocate centers, attorney’s offices, corrections, social services, diverse communities, and youth, among others.
The purpose of the group is to develop a comprehensive, wide-ranging, and community-based enforcement and education team that can begin steering perpetrators toward rehabilitation and identify those in our community in need of services before a crime is even committed.
Prevention of criminal behavior for area youth is already one the Police Department’s main focuses, with a list of new youth engagement events launched in the last year; however, a Cop House - a fully-staffed neighborhood residence where kids are welcome at any time and participate in planned weekly youth activities – is also potentially on the horizon, after Faribault City staff and community leaders toured the successful pilot program in St. Cloud.
Leaders know the technology, collaboration and prevention efforts won’t eliminate crime, but they’re also extremely confident that with these new strategy objectives, a substantial impact will be made, and when crimes are committed, the officers charged with finding the perpetrators will have the tools to do it more effectively.