TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Last year, there were 69 homicides for the Tucson Police Department. 2021 has already reached that number.
Of the 69 homicides this year, 26 of them have been in the Operations Division South, the most of any other division.
One of the ways they are looking to prevent violent crimes is called "hotspot policing." This is when they saturate an area that is likely to experience violent crime.
"If we can get to those areas, the ones where we have repeated crimes, and we are saturating it of course officer presence is always going to be a crime mitigator," Monica Prieto, the captain of the Operations Division South, said. "That's why we have our officers checking out those specific locations."
The unit that does this is part of the community response team. They work to patrol the areas to show that they are there, but also interact with members of the community.
"A lot of it is preventative measures and really working with the community to identify what the problems are, analyzing those problems and trying to get the right resources into the community," Captain Prieto said. "It's not about causing harm to the community. It's about building trust and working with them to try to improve."
The unit will often speak with the vulnerable population in the areas and work to get them help.
Hotspot policing also helps TPD learn who some of the violent offenders in the community may be. This leads to quicker arrests when crimes occur.
"Minutes and hours are crucial at the start of the investigation," Sergeant Kyle Wilson, supervisor for the community response team, said. "If we can identify and locate a suspect in the earlier stages, we prevent opportunities for them to reoffend."
Wilson's unit will go after the violent offenders in the community.
"A lot of the low-level crime is caused by the higher-level criminals and those are people we are trying to focus our efforts on," Sergeant Wilson said.
Despite the rise in homicides this year, Wilson said this approach to policing is working.
"This year to date we have assisted with approximately 45 follow-up arrests for those violent crime investigative units. That being robbery, aggravated assault unit and the homicide unit." Sergeant Wilson said. "My group alone is responsible for about 45 of their follow-up arrests from those violent crimes and we are just a fourth of the city's community response teams, each division has one of their own."
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