It’s impossible to combat violent crime in a silo. Through IPS, prosecutors’ offices are harnessing diverse expertise — from law enforcement officers and crime analysts to healthcare providers and software engineers — to expand intelligence, improve system-wide coordination, and fill gaps in service.
TEAMS, SPECIAL UNITS, & TASK FORCES
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) is aiming to dismantle violent criminal enterprises in Chicago, IL by disrupting their illegal access to money. To build stronger cases and hold violent offenders accountable for the full spectrum of their conduct, a dedicated Financial and Cybercrimes Prosecutor is working hand-in-hand with other SAO units, including the Gun Crimes Strategies Unit and the Complex Narcotics Unit. The prosecutor is also working closely with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, the Cook County Regional Organized Crime Task Force, and local law enforcement to enhance intelligence on known gangs and criminal organizations. Prosecutors and law enforcement will collaborate with the Community Justice Centers, neighborhood leaders, and local businesses to identify additional organizations and individuals conducting illegal gang-related activities.
To combat violence in Cleveland, OH, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office is using its Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) as a hub to coordinate law enforcement efforts with multiple police departments and other agencies in the region. The CSU synthesizes incident reports from a variety of agencies — including the Cleveland Division of Police, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department, Garfield Heights Police Department, and Maple Heights Police Department — to identify crime patterns and drivers of violence in the region. Information is then disseminated through monthly meetings to all justice-involved partners, which includes local, state, and federal law enforcement.
In Denver, CO, a new Digital Evidence Task Force aims to crack down on gang crime by enhancing communication between local law enforcement agencies. The team — composed of a Deputy from the Denver District Attorney's Office, representatives from the Denver Police Department, research partners from the University of Denver, and digital evidence specialists from a private company, VTO Labs — serve as a forum for cross-training, case collaboration, and advanced digital investigations. This criminal justice partnership allows for exploration into techniques and programs most efficient at recovering digital evidence and will expose gaps in knowledge that require further research.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS
In order to address violent crime in Plymouth County, MA, the prosecutor’s office is using IPS funds to enhance its Safe Streets coalition, a joint effort by law enforcement and community agencies to eradicate gun violence. The office is fostering formalized collaborations with external agencies — like the Brockton YMCA, Brockton Police, State Police, and Juvenile Probation Department — to identify individuals at risk for future violence. The DA’s Office is also investing in a robust community engagement effort by bringing together a variety of local business owners, faith-based organizations, social service providers, and interested citizens for monthly meetings to discuss quality-of-life concerns and other issues.
Hawaii County, HI is aiming to reduce the prevalence of victim and witness intimidation, which has significantly contributed to rising rates of violent crime on Hawaii’s Big Island. Recognizing that intimidation is a community problem, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney is putting together a multidisciplinary team to coordinate and implement support services for victims of crime as well as for repeat offenders. The team includes healthcare providers, social services personnel, housing and employment agencies, educational institutions, and faith-based organizations, along with local and federal law enforcement. By collaborating with a wide variety of organizations, the prosecutor’s office hopes to empower victims to take an active role in the criminal justice process while reducing violent crime by addressing the needs of offenders.
A team in Nassau County, NY is also partnering with the community to tackle crime at its roots. In the village of Hempstead, where tough socioeconomic conditions have correlated with a recent spike in crime — twenty percent of residents live below the poverty line — the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office is instituting a zone-focused prosecution model. Members of the team, which will include a pool of experienced prosecutors, detective-investigators, analysts from the office’s Crime Strategies Unit, and staff from its Community Partnership Program, meet regularly to share data and intelligence, hone crime reduction strategies, and coordinate community outreach. They also collaborate with local programs — such as the Family and Children’s Association, Economic Opportunity Commission, Help End Violence Now, Hispanic Counseling Center, and Woman’s Opportunity Rehabilitation Center — to provide residents with a wide range of social services.
Prosecutors in Long Beach City, CA are using IPS funds for a mobile application that will enable real-time data-sharing between city departments. Known as GUIDES (Government User Integrated Diversion Enhancement System), the app — developed by software company Laserfiche — will provide police and prosecutors with critical case information (e.g., stay away court orders, gang affiliation) as well as resources for people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. GUIDES will rely on a variety of social service, medical, and treatment providers to upload relevant patient information into the system so that law enforcement can access the data and use it to divert individuals they encounter on patrol to needed services. The app will also enable street-level intelligence to be transmitted instantaneously among city departments and the region’s law enforcement.
In an effort to enhance the intelligence-sharing capacity of law enforcement in Yolo County, CA, the District Attorney’s Office is transforming its existing countywide Special Investigations Unit into a data-sharing center. As part of the Crime Strategies Unit (CSU), Deputy District Attorneys and a crime analyst liaise with law enforcement agencies and their designated representatives to collect, analyze, and share intelligence as it relates to the most significant crime-driven categories. With existing personnel and the addition of the crime analyst, the CSU collaborates to identify criminal trends, coordinate an action plan (to include disruption, intervention, and/or prevention), and utilize resources to achieve measurable positive community impact. The CSU also works with existing programs designated for intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation of some offenders.
Baton Rouge, LA is spearheading an interagency team to reduce overdose deaths in the parish while disrupting the market for opioids by targeting high-profile drug dealers. The team represents a wide array of local and national agencies: the District Attorney’s Office, Louisiana National Guard crime analysts, Louisiana State University researchers, the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Medical Services, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Corrections, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The team collects and analyzes a vast amount of data, building intelligence in creative ways that would not be possible without the collaboration of its member agencies. LSU researchers, for instance, are able to overlay overdose deaths by U.S. Postal Service carrier routes, enabling the team to track patterns and potentially trace drugs distributed through the mail by dark web suppliers.
Guidelines for Establishing and Operating Gang Intelligence Units and Task Forces (PDF)
Developed by the Gang Intelligence Sharing Committee, this guide discusses general principles for establishing violent crime task forces and the critical steps needed to make them successful and sustainable.
Human Trafficking Task Force e-Guide (website)
This e-guide, developed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance, is intended to assist jurisdictions in the development and day-to-day operations of an anti-human trafficking task force and to provide fundamental guidance for effective task force operations.
Enhancing Witness Safety: Preventing and Responding to Witness Intimidation (webinar)
In the first of a multi-part IPS series on witness intimidation, Kris Hamann of the Prosecutors' Center for Excellence examines collaborative methods for enhancing victim and witness safety, improving witnesses’ ability to participate in the justice system, and holding offenders accountable at all stages of the criminal justice process.