the goal is to be proactive in the face of rising crime rates – KION546

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By Conor McCue

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BOULDER, Colo. (KCNC) – As Colorado communities and their law enforcement agencies struggle to cope with rising crime rates, some agencies are trying new approaches to community policing, including the Police Department from Boulder.

Since Sunday, Boulder officers have responded to two gun violence-related incidents on University Hill, a neighborhood heavily populated by University of Colorado Boulder students.

In one case, multiple people exchanged gunfire, resulting in a man being charged with attempted murder. In another, a man was arrested after reports of a shooting.

While violent crime in Boulder isn’t near the level of some other cities, police chiefs say they’re seeing a significant and concerning trend.

“Normally, on an annual basis, we just don’t have this type of crime on a regular basis here, so it’s important to us,” Boulder Deputy Police Chief Stephen Redfearn said.

This week’s incidents come amid an increase in gunfire and calls to arms on the Hill. The department has made several out-of-town arrests so far, but Redfearn and others are more concerned about what’s leading to the increase in gun-related incidents.

“It’s not a trend we’re happy with,” Redfearn said.

Now, a new program within the Boulder Police Department called “Stratified Policing” aims to find answers. Redfearn said the approach focuses on using data to identify problems, as well as solutions, and that everyone from the chief to a patrol officer is accountable.

“How do we nip this in the bud before it even happens – whether it’s putting additional patrols in the area, working with businesses, working with community members to talk about crime prevention,” Redfearn said. “All of these things go into this program that we’re doing here to try to prevent it before it happens.”

For now, the department will rely on increased patrols and more communication with fraternity and sorority liaisons. Redfearn also suggests students limit party invitations to people they know and call the police if they see anything of concern.

“That’s the big picture, and we really need the help of the community to make it happen,” he said.

Andy Harvey, current police chief and staff member of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration (ILEA), said he encourages departments to try new and innovative tactics.

While data-driven policing has been successful elsewhere, he said the only concern is when targeted efforts turn to over-surveillance of different areas or people, and it will be important for Boulder police to avoid that.

“People want to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. As long as you do that and make sure they’re included in the process, I think that can be a really good thing,” Harvey said. “It’s when we don’t that we can cross that line and do a disservice.”

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