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Ron Kaye: Reviewing the Week in Crime

December 11, 2011

Every Wednesday promptly at 1:30 p.m., 50 or more cops and some civilian staffers assemble in the meeting room at the Glendale Police Department for the fastest 60 minutes in crime-fighting.

They call it the “Week in Crime.”

A glimpse inside what Glendale police are doing with high-tech computers in every car, software that connects them to every database, video surveillance systems on the streets and increasingly sophisticated analytical techniques gives a civilian the feeling he has entered a world that resembles crime-of-the-week TV shows like NCIS.

The weekly meeting is a key element in the department’s strategy to go beyond reacting when incidents occur. These days, the city’s police seek to proactively suppress crime, even predict where and when it will occur so they can be there waiting when it happens.

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In the last two years, Chief Ron De Pompa has expanded the “Week in Crime” meetings from a few top commanders to include everyone in the department, often as much as 25% of the force. The goal is to get everyone on the same page and to share their knowledge and skills as they review the who, what, when, where and why of every reported crime in the city — all pinpointed on a giant screen, analyzed for patterns, examined for the modus operandi.

On this day, the problem of theft from work vans is the top item, a problem that is getting worse as the release of about 2,000 convicts into L.A. County every month from state prisons has started — half on parole, half to jails that are so overcrowded that other inmates are being set free early to make room for them.

Pointing to a cluster of break-ins where tools and even heavy equipment is being stolen from vans, a crime analyst points to graphics showing when the thefts occurred and how they are concentrated on weekends from midnight to 6 a.m.

“They’re good at it … blending in unnoticed. No one hears or sees anything,” he notes, based on reviewing all the reports.

Home burglaries are a problem too, but the pattern is very different. They peak in mid-week in the afternoons, when residents are at work.

“They seem to be young and inexperienced,” he suggests, speaking of the burglars, noting trash from ice cream and drinks left behind and how they are only taking small items like jewelry that they can stash in pockets.

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