Crime prevention and reduction have been revolutionized by advancements in timely and accurate sharing of information between prosecutors and members of law enforcement. Prior to this onset of innovations in policing and prosecution, there were limited systems in place to facilitate this kind of partnership and organize and track data on crime. Prosecutors would be responsible for handling large caseloads and were not expected to understand what was driving repeated criminal activity.
Using the intelligence-driven prosecution model, New York County District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr, has produced a comprehensive network to connect the formerly separated silos of investigative information gathered by the NYPD. Through more efficient analysis and dissemination of neighborhood metrics, Vance and his colleagues have led one of the most effective campaigns to streamline the work of urban prosecutors in American cities.
Employing a Crime Strategies Unit (“CSU”) to identify crime hotspots and assign a prosecutor to focus on understanding the criminal activity of designated geographic areas, officials are now able to analyze criminal activity identifiers and key players driving crime throughout different neighborhoods. Features of the intelligence driven prosecution include an arrest alert system which allows prosecutors and law enforcement to be notified when priority targets in the area are arrested, and DANY 311, which allows prosecutors to ask intelligence questions to make effective use of information that is gathered from cases, helping to further reduce information silos.
Information gathering through CSU and collaboration between prosecutors, law enforcement, and the community is a low cost approach to ensure prosecutors can work to reduce crime rather than just react to police arrests. As CSU continues to see success with this approach to combating crime, other police departments and District Attorney Offices should follow this innovative example and put in place similar programs.