Offender and Place-based Policing in a Hotspot
University of Texas, Dallas Campus (John Worrall)
The City of Frisco’s most serious crime problems are domestic violence and property crimes, especially true in the city’s apartment communities. The complexes are made up primarily of low-income housing, some section 8 housing, mostly Spanish speaking residents, and is considered a high-crime area involving assault, drug dealing, theft and a high incidence of Family Violence.
Frisco also discovered offender-based and place-based “hotspots” that correlated with the three major apartment complexes in the oldest part of town. Looking further at the data, we noticed calls for service and crime seemed to move periodically from one apartment complex to the other complexes. When extra efforts were applied to one complex, the crime moved to another and so on.
Strategies and Tactics
The Frisco Police Department’s goals are to:
- Reduce perceived area physical deterioration
- Reduce perceived area social disorder
- Reduce fear of personal victimization
- Reduce worry about property crime
- Reduce perceived area personal crime
- Improve evaluation of police
- Increase satisfaction with area.
Frisco SPI has deployed an officer (Officer LaPrelle) who is bilingual to the target apartment complex – Stonebrook Village Apartments. Officer LaPrelle is involved in the following strategies and tactics:
- Conducting foot patrols
- Engaging in direct contact with residents
- Maintaining daily contact with youth after school
- Providing a marked police unit to act as a deterrent
- Maintaining daily contact with management
- Gathering intelligence.
As part of this effort, the Frisco Police Department has partners with a variety of organization include, Stonebriar Church, Frisco Family Services, Mosaic Family Services, apartment communities, and the downtown merchants association.
The research partner is conducting the following evaluation activities:
Community focus groups and resident surveys before, during, and after intervention.
- Focus groups were held in December 2011, May 2012, and August 2013.
- Analysis of dispatch data and crime reports (spatial and temporal analysis of crime when Officer LaPrelle is and is not present at the complex) before, during, and after intervention in treatment and control areas. Analysis of officer daily logs.
- The plan is to identify significant improvements in various outcomes, including crime and perceptions of quality of life and crime.
News, Video, and Media
December 2013 - Frisco's SPI focuses on offender-based and place-based hotspots, which involve three major apartment complexes in the oldest part of the town of Frisco. As part of the SPI project, the Frisco Police Department assigned Officer Chad Laprelle to the hotspots to learn the area, the people and their problems, partner with those residents, and work together to solve them. As a way to increase his contacts with children from the hotspots, Officer Laprelle is now eating lunch at two local elementary schools. This program was created by the school district to increase security, but Officer LaPrelle has the added benefit of interacting with children from the hotspots. To read more go here.
September 2012 Update - Learn more about Frisco SPI's team members and recent updates on their project here.
The Frisco SPIs team (left to right): Researcher Dr. John Worrall, Victim Advocate and Grant Manager Tonia Cunningham, Officer Chad Laprelle, Crime Analyst Dustin Ross, and Public Service Officer Nick Saraceni.
July 2012 Update -
The City of Frisco is a growing community in what was, until recently, a very rural region consisting of corn, wheat and cotton fields interspersed with cattle ranches. Frisco is now approximately 62 square miles and contains retail, residential and commercial properties with approximately 126,000 residents. The planned build-out is estimated to be 70 square miles and approximately 350,000 people by 2030. Frisco is strategically located in both Collin and Denton Counties in North Central Texas established in 1902 and incorporated in 1908. When Frisco entered the 21st Century, it became an important partner in the expansion of what is now the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex.
To recap, our project involves offender-based and place-based “hotspots” which involve three major apartment complexes in the oldest part of town. Looking further at the data, we noticed calls for service and crime seemed to move periodically from one apartment complex to the other complexes. When extra efforts were applied to one complex, the crime moved to another and so on. These predominantly low-income properties also had the most diverse, multi-lingual populations in the City. As the City grows, we anticipate seeing more of these large complexes being proposed and built which motivated us to study ways to police them more efficiently.
Our idea was to dedicate an officer to learn the area, the people and their problems, partner with those residents and work together to solve them. We were fortunate to have Officer Chad Laprelle chosen for the position. Officer Laprelle is bi-lingual and a very motivated officer and has been instrumental in moving the project along in the field. Chad’s mission was a daunting one. Reduce crime, the perception of crime, fear of crime and increase the Department’s image in the community.
Community Focus Group Meeting - December 2011
A short time after we were awarded funding, we began our project by having our research partner, Dr. John Worrall of the University of Texas, Dallas Campus (UT), conduct our first Community Focus Group meeting in December 2011. Thirty residents attended. Participants were asked a number of questions pertaining to public safety and perceptions of quality of life. The following concerns were expressed by one or more participants:
- Young kids playing, older kids not respective speed limit/speed bumps
- Lack of adequate lighting in certain areas
- Vacant lots near back of property with frequently damaged fences
- Children out playing late—apartment curfew not enforced adequately
- Strangers/guests brought onto property, some of whom cause problems
- Fights over parking spaces, even though they’re not assigned
- Non-residents taking up parking spaces
- Occasional outdoor urination
- People occasionally taking trash from the dumpsters (identity theft concerns)
- Drug use (only one person pointed this out)
- Parking in handicap spaces
- Some people supposedly live in certain units without being on the lease
- Some concerns expressed about sex offenders and how to identify them and their locations
- Pet waste left around without being picked up
When residents were asked what police do to help their neighbors prevent crime, the average response fell between “some” and “very little.” One respondent reported “nothing at all” and another reported “a lot.” Clearly, we had our work cut out for us.
Community Focus Group Meeting - May 2012
As we enter the second half of our first full year, we had a second focus group meeting conducted in May of 2012. Concerns have shifted to:
- Lack of lighting in certain parts of the property
- Occasional drinking/hanging out around trash area
- Some outside dumping
- Occasional out of place cars
- Cars have slowed down and turned down stereos
- Our Officer's presence is good for safety of the area
- Grateful for 1-on-1 relationship with Chad
- Kids can go outside and play safely more often
- Chad is getting to know more and more residents, which is nice
- Initial concerns that PD might be targeting immigration issues, but pleased to see it's crime/safety Chad is focusing on
What was interesting were comments involving Chad’s presence. Residents noted that when when Chad was not around there was more public drinking and fast driving through the lots.
Having had 6 months of our officer in their complex, they now wanted:
- More presence (people, including bad guys, could predict when our officer wasn't around)
- More drug enforcement if possible
- More interaction with young adults, not just younger children
Activites of the Dedicated Officer and Apartment Complex
To win the hearts and minds of the residents, during the school year, Officer Laprelle made it a point to meet resident children unloading from the school bus while handing out safety themed coloring books to them. He often plays basketball or soccer with them. Officer Laprelle even initiated a Newsletter he puts together and distributes to all the apartments in the complex.
To help clean up the complex, Chad is working with management to enforce evictions and criminal trespasses. Chad has conducted numerous presentations for the residents about health and safety issues. He has organized a community outreach cleanup with a local church. Our Bicycle Team gave a bicycle safety presentation to the kids.
To increase attendance, property managers have held raffles for a discount on a months rent (not funded by the grant). Several residents have volunteered they were glad to have police in the neighborhood and said that, at first, they were not happy about living in the complex, but felt more secure now that there was more of a police presence.
As a result, Chad is often contacted by residents while on foot patrol. The residents want to know if there are any issues in the complex because they have noticed a lot more police activity in the area. Chad assures them there are no issues and explains that the increased activity was because an officer is being dedicated to the area to help.
Recently, while on foot in the complex, a little girl flagged Chad down. She said the smoke detector in her apartment was going off and it smelled like something was burning. She had just arrived home from school. Management was able to open up the apartment, it was full of smoke. Food was left cooking on the stove which caused the smoke. They were able to turn the stove off before a more serious fire could start. The Frisco Fire Department responded to ventilate the apartment.
Residents have come forward with information about groups of small children who lived in and around the complex that were never supervised because their parents were always at work. Also people dealing drugs from their apartments and paths used by suspicious persons moving between our SPI project site, the Rollingbrook Apartments, and another trouble spot, the Fox Haven Apartments.
As we move forward, surveys like these will guide us in making improvements in our project. We anxiously await our next survey at the end of July to see how our project has affected our calls for service and overall crime statistics during the peak Summer season.
Nick Saraceni - Frisco Police Department
Mr. Saraceni provides a program overview.
A transcript of this podcast is available here.