New program to improve campus area crime analysis

UC Berkeley students will soon have the opportunity to analyze crime statistics and patterns in the campus area through a new program run jointly by the Berkeley Police Department and UCPD, which could be implemented as soon as October.

The Berkeley City Council is expected to accept a $36,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund, allowing BPD and UCPD to hire at least one paid student intern and purchase equipment for the two-year program, according to UCPD Lt. Adan Tejada.

The program will bring both departments’ data together to assess crime patterns in the areas where they share jurisdiction. The intern, who will work a maximum of 20 hours a week and earn a majority of the $36,000 grant over two years, will focus on tracking trends for “nuanced” crimes in the area, Tejada said.

“Things like laptop and bike thefts and some large-value crimes, we don’t get to explore some of those nuances without dedicated staff on it,” he said. “We don’t get a chance to do some of that nitty-gritty analysis without someone trained to do it and with the time to analyze it.”

The intern will also geocode certain locations on campus to more specifically identify where crimes occur. With specific codes, the departments will be able to track certain high-crime locations to the exact hall or area on campus.

“It’s fighting crime in a non-traditional sense,” Tejada said. “Then we can see where trends are.”

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he will be glad to have this new program, especially because of its involvement with student interns.

“Since the campus area has the highest number of crimes in the city of Berkeley, it’s really important to do crime analysis,” Worthington said. “They’re going to be able to hire students to do the work doing the research on crime analysis and the benefit is going to be to people in the campus area.”

UCPD does not currently have a crime analyst and instead depends on analysis by patrol teams that focuses on “larger, more obvious things over a shorter period of time,” Tejada said.

The crime analyst intern program is one of 15 programs chosen out of 68 applicants for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, according to UC Berkeley graduate student Ben Krupicka, student assistant in the campus’s office of government and community relations.

The programs are recommended by an advisory committee to the chancellor, who ultimately approves the funding, Krupicka said. Although there are no limits regarding reapplying for funds after a program ends, the advisory board will only consider programs with significant expansion.

“I’m hoping that we’ll see some real benefits out of it by either solving existing crimes or preventing crimes,” Tejada said. “If it proves its value, both the city and the university may find a way to fund it in the future.”