Based on the frequency of four types of crime, police are targeting zones across Washington County in an attempt to reduce problems in those areas, according to officials with three local police agencies.
The approach is known as Data-driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety. The zones are set up based on the frequency of burglaries, robberies, theft from vehicles and theft of vehicles, said Capt. Mark Holtzman of the Hagerstown Police Department.
Under the program, every officer must spend 30 minutes a day in one of the zones conducting traffic enforcement and issuing warnings, repair orders and citations, Holtzman said.
It is hoped that through higher police visibility, crime will drop in those zones, Holtzman said.
"It has worked well in other cities," said Holtzman, noting that Baltimore County, Md., has used the zone approach. A police captain from Baltimore County explained the strategy to the Hagerstown Police Department officers, Holtzman said.
The program is being implemented through a partnership between city police, Maryland State Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.
"Citizens will see increased visibility of law enforcement as we make ourselves highly visible through traffic stops and other enforcement methods in these areas," the release said. "This campaign is not about how many traffic citations can be written, but rather about conducting traffic enforcement with the knowledge that crimes often involve the use of motor vehicles."
The sheriff's office has established four zones, which will be patrolled with the help of state police, said Cpl. Dan Henley of the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office started its initiative June 1, Henley said.
The program is a different approach to law enforcement because of the time span that is used in collecting data, Holtzman said.
Police often take into consideration what is happening in a day, week or month, Holtzman said.
But the zones designated under the data-driven crime initiative are based on statistics over a three-year period, he said.
At the end of a given year, police examine their data to determine if the zones still are problem areas.
"From year to year, you adjust the zone," Holtzman said.
State police in Hagerstown expect to start their patrol program July 1, said Lt. Thomas Woodward, commander of the local barrack.
Holtzman said city police also plan to "go live" with their initiative July 1.