Crime Lab Strategic Decision Support Centers

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Chicago experienced 768 homicides in 2016, nearly a 60% increase from 2015. This violence destroys individual lives, plagues entire communities, and threatens the future and vitality of the City itself. To combat this violence, starting in February 2017 the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has built Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) in six of its most violent police districts. These six SDSC-equipped districts represent just 20 percent of the city population but accounted for almost 55 percent of Chicago’s shootings in 2016.

This initiative represents a new approach to gun violence prevention that is designed to help police commanders target their resources to the right place at the right time, and be more responsive to communities' needs. SDSCs are rooms in which a suite of technology, district leadership, and analysts from and trained by the University of Chicago Crime Lab work together to develop localized crime reduction strategies using data analysis, human intelligence and input from the community. These efforts are tailored to meet the unique needs of each community, with community concerns incorporated into the district's daily planning process.

By mid-december 2017, Chicago experienced 715 fewer shootings (-18%) relative to 2016. Two thirds of the reduction--473--came from the SDSC districts. In District 7 (Englewood), these impressive gains are promising not just compared to 2016, but also when looking at violence over the longer term--since the launch of the SDSC, District 7 has experienced the fewest shooting incidents in any year since CPD began storing this data electronically.

Reducing gun violence in our most violent districts is critical to keeping residents safe and to helping our city thrive. Through the development of localized crime reduction strategies, tailored to meet the needs of the community, the SDSCs hold promise for leveraging the data, technology, and human intelligence available to CPD to make real progress on public safety and to promote police-community trust. Based on the early success of the initiative, CPD will expand the SDSCs to six additional districts on the south and west sides by the end of 2018, including: 2 (Wentworth), 3 (Grand Crossing), 4 (South Chicago), 5 (Calumet), 8 (Chicago Lawn), and 25 (Grand Central). To facilitate the successful expansion of the SDSCs, the Crime Lab will continue to embed analysts, train CPD analysts, and provide technical assistance around implementation.

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SDSCs in the Media

Chicago Tribune: "As shootings and homicides drop in Englewood, a new optimism grows"

BBC: "Chicago goes high-tech in search of answers to gun crime surge"

Chicago Tribune: "A high-tech ray of hope in the fight against gun violence in Englewood"

Wall Street Journal: "Chicago tries high-tech approach to curb violence"