Portland, Oregon

Using "High Visibility Intermittent Random Policing" (HVIRP) to Prevent Crime and Reduce Calls for Service

Research Partner: Portland State University (Drs. Henning, Renauer, and Kahn)


Statement of the Problem

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB), like many other law enforcement agencies around the country, must respond to rising crime rates with declining resources devoted to public safety. This necessitates a creative approach to administering our remaining police resources, something other jurisdictions have done by directing supplemental police patrols to crime hot spots. At the same time, recent public reactions to the “Stop and Frisk” type programs and a growing concern around the possible harm to police legitimacy by enforcement-based strategies highlight the importance of balancing new crime control initiatives with efforts to enhance public trust in the police.

Strategies and Tactics

As the positive findings from meta-analytic work on hot spot policing reached the Portland Police Bureau, discussions began regarding the applicability of this strategy to Portland. However, PPB Command, community members and others had concerns about sending additional enforcement-driven patrols into the city’s high crime areas, if such patrols would damage the community/police relationship. Recent media coverage of stop & frisk programs and Portland’s own challenges with police-community relations raised the possibility that additional enforcement-centric actions might erode community trust. To address these concerns, the Chief’s Office along with the Crime Analysis Unit, convened several meetings with police supervisors, representatives from the Mayor’s office, and local academics to consider alternatives to traditional hot spot policing.
The final result was the development of a novel intervention that combined the directed patrol technique of hot spot policing with tactical approaches from community policing (i.e., Cordner, 1997). More specifically, the primary goal of the Chief’s Office was to increase non-investigative interactions between citizens and street officers in high crime areas using pre-programmed CAD calls. Officers were dispatched to select locations throughout the day and instructed to spend 15 minutes there, ideally engaging with residents and businesses in positive interactions (e.g., “meet & greet,” business checks, problem-solving, information).

Research Methodology

The full intervention, dubbed Neighborhood Involvement Locations, or Ni-Loc for short, ran for six months from March through September 2014. It involved a fully randomized experimental design with 90 high crime areas assigned to one of three conditions: 1) control – no additional patrols, 2) two Ni-Loc patrols per day, and 3) four Ni-Loc patrols per day. Over the course of the initial project more than 15,000 supplemental patrol calls were initiated through the CAD system. The research team along with crime analysts from the Police Bureau will spend the next few years studying how Ni-Loc was implemented and what impact it had on crime, calls for service, and community attitudes. The team will also monitor how the Bureau adapts and sustains directed community engagement patrols.

News, Video, and Media 

Date Source News and Events
July 2015

GoLocalPDX News

Portland Crime Problems: Data Helps Fight the Dangerous Trends

The Portland Police Bureau's Strategic Services Division and the Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Portland State University (PSU) have partnered to provide an interactive tool to provide a longer term look at crime trends. The interactive data shows the geographic distribution of crime in the city; and reveals insights into crime data.

You can read the full article online here.

August 2016 Willamette Week

How One Portland Neighborhood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Homeless

Officer Jason Jones of the Portland Police Department (PPD) is just one of many officers finding new ways to work with Portland's homeless populations. Over the past six months, officers and community leaders have a new approach with homeless people: welcoming them to the community. 

You can read the full article online here

August 2016 Fox 12 Oregon

NE Portland Neighborhood Conducts New Homeless Experiment

Portland's Park Rose Neighborhood community group is trying new methods to clean up the neighborhood through a partnership with the Porland Police Department (PPD) and the Park Rose Alliance and. By food patrolling neighborhoods and going door-to-door with public safety surveys, PPD officers have found they are able to build stronger relationships of trust and respect with Portland's homeless population. 

You can read the full article online here