Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Inside Operation Blue CRUSH - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Inside Operation Blue CRUSH

By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In the air over South Memphis and on the ground in Frayser, Action News 5 was recently along for the ride as the Memphis Police Department cracked down on crime.  For police, crime fighting is a numbers game, where the department's Blue CRUSH strategy pinpoints possible crimes down to the exact date and time.

Action News 5 was granted exclusive access inside the Memphis Police Department's war room for a strategy session where colonels and majors from each of the city's nine precincts give detailed reports about crime in their areas.

It's here officers create a plan of attack, using traditional policing and Blue Crush crackdowns.

"When you look at the data you can tell when the peak times for crimes occur," Lt. Mike McCullom said.

Data from this meeting shows the Old Allen Precinct in North Memphis is the most dangerous part of the city. Roughly 120,000 people inhabit the area, a 60-square-mile city within a city.

Using statistical analysis of recent crimes, officers can pinpoint the most likely time for the city's #1 crime to occur: home break-ins.  In Area 1 of the Old Allen Precinct it's Monday and Tuesday between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., Wednesdays between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., and Fridays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and again between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

The data drives the tactics.  On this week, it’s highly visible mobile patrols, neighborhood sweeps, random traffic stops, and apartment complex sweeps.  The goal: figure out where the bad guys are going to be, and get there before they do.

Before D Shift hit the streets officers talked about their plan to catch a group of armed robbers targeting businesses on Covington Pike.

"What I need you all to do is hit those back streets," one officer said. "What these guys do is they break into a business, then run behind the business to the woods or an open field, and they probably go a street or two over. They've probably got a car parked over there."

Police say the strategy is paying off.  Overall, crime is down in the Old Allen Precinct by 12 percent from this same time last year.

"When they get out and they're going to go do a robbery or something and they pull up, and we've got five or six extra cars saturating that area, they're just going to keep right on rolling," McCullom said.

Each of the nine Memphis police precincts has it's own Blue CRUSH operating budget, which pays for officer overtime and cost of equipment. The Old Allen precinct's operating budget is a little more than $535,000 per year.  And consider this:  The Old Allen Precinct is the size of the 5th largest city in Tennessee, and on a good night there are roughly only 30 officers per shift patrolling that area.

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