The department developed an advanced analytics solution that uses information from state and federal sources.
Durham PD decided that the best starting point was to hone in on areas of the city where crime rates were particularly high. Focusing on gun crime, the Department reviewed police calls for service records to determine the source of any reports of gunfire.
“What we found was that roughly 20 percent of all ‘shots fired’ calls were coming from just 2 percent of the city’s entire land area,” notes Jason Schiess. “Our next step was to look at violent crimes committed with firearms and, again, we saw the same disproportionate level of activity occurring within almost that exact area of the city.
“As a final measure, we examined the kind of individuals that were at the heart of this activity. We searched for the last known address of validated gang members and found that they were right on top of these other two areas. Seeing that correlation was a true ‘eureka’ moment, and we realized that we were onto something big.”
Having established that the greatest density of violent crime was occurring in just a two-square-mile area, which became known as the Bull’s Eye, Durham PD needed a way to take the vast amounts of information it already held on criminal activity and turn it into intelligence that could be used to drive more targeted police action.
Jason Schiess explains: “We had mountains of data on known gang members and their associates, incidents of violent crime and illicit activities, such as drug dealing and street prostitution. What we did not have was an easy way to unearth the patterns and trends buried in this data that would allow us to link key individuals and activities to take down criminals.”
To dig deep into crime data and provide officers on the street with a better picture of criminal activity, Durham PD launched Operation Bull’s Eye—an initiative sponsored by the department’s Chief of Police, with support, project reviews and funding provided by the Durham city manager and the county manager. Operation Bull’s Eye has brought together law enforcement, city and county agencies and community stakeholders to lead an unprecedented fight against violent crime.