GRPD crunching more numbers to reduce crime

Analyst Andra McLain looks at recent crimes in Grand Rapids. (Aug. 26, 2014)
Analyst Andra McLain looks at recent crimes in Grand Rapids. (Aug. 26, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — She doesn’t carry a gun and she doesn’t make arrests — but Andrea McLain is on the front lines of fighting crime in Grand Rapids.

And she does it with just a few key strokes.

“There might be a series of robberies going on,” McLain said as she went over numbers and locations on the Grand Rapids Police Department’s crime mapping page.

McLain is GRPD’s newly hired crime analyst. As she dives into the numbers and identifies trends, she’s creating a virtual crystal ball to help officers prevent crime before it happens or to stop a potential crime spree in its tracks.

“I find a pattern — like they’re all occurring with two offenders, with similar descriptions coming from the victims,” McLain said.

It’s part of an effort to get analytical information that can help the department predict where officers are needed the most.

“As opposed to random policing — just putting police out on the streets in the hopes they’ll be in the right place at the right time – we’re now getting to the point we’re able to tell them specifically where they need to be,” said GRPD Chief David Rahinsky.

After less than two months on the job, Rahinsky appeared before the Grand Rapids City Commission’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday to talk about changes to the department and its approach to analyzing crime.

“One of our goals is to be the safest city of our size in the country,” Rahinsky said. “The goal is easy to state. What’s harder is to measure it.”

GRPD is changing the way crime is measured by comparing Grand Rapids crime stats to those of similar-sized cities. New York and Los Angeles are going to have different problems than a medium-sized, Midwest city like Grand Rapids.

While Rahinsky said he would like to see Grand Rapids crime rankings lower than those of similar-sized cities, he said it’s not just about the numbers.

“It’s just as important that we recognize what our drivers are and we’re doing our best to address them,” he said. “You can follow some of those trends as well.”


On the web:

Grand Rapids crime mapping

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