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Police chief, college team up to map crime

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 29 2013 04:00:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 08:30:53 AM CDT

Police chief, college team up to map crime

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

It's a question police departments grapple with every day: How do you stay one step ahead of the bad guys?

A police chief may have found the answer on a Lehigh County college campus.

Since 2010 Pocono Mountain Regional Police has lost about 20 percent of its officers, due to budget cuts.

So the department is looking to students at Cedar Crest College to curb crime.

"It is possible to prevent crime from occurring in the first place," Cedar Crest college criminal justice Professor Scott Hoke said.

"Many departments don't think how can geography can be used to identify patterns to prevent crime, solve crime," Hoke added.

This has led to a crime prevention partnership between Hoke and Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis.

Hoke says his 32 students analyze crime data given by Lewis, then figure out the criminal trends.

When asked what the map shows, Hoke said ,"Tells me where and when this particular house is burglarized. Those that served around it are at a greater risk of burglary than had that house never been burglarized.

Students get credit for the work. Lewis gets intellogence he can directly use.

"Have the ability to focus our proactive patrol's on specific areas rather than a random patrol pattern," Lewis stated.

Data like this doesn't come cheap: software can cost upwards of $14,000.

But because Pocono Mountain Regional officers are using collegiate cartography, it doesn't cost them a dime.

"They supply us with with a service an agency our size could never afford or do because we don't have the manpower or budget," Lewis said.

Lewis did say for as great as this program is, more police on the street is still the best tool for preventing crime.