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And the Winner Is…

ANAHEIM – The Chula Vista Police Department on Wednesday won the Herman Goldstein Award for excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing for a multi-year effort to clean up the city’s crime-ridden motels.

Chula Vista Winners

Goldstein winners Karin Schmerler, Don Hunter and David Eisenberg with APD Chief John Welter

But CVPD wasn’t the only winner at the 20th annual International Problem-Oriented Policing Conference at the Disneyland Hotel. Dozens of Anaheim police officers and executives made important connections and heard the latest in crime-solving theory from top law enforcement officials and academics.

The three-day conference ended with a short ceremony honoring the top examples of creative police problem solving. APD was a finalist in 2007 for its effort to solve community issues at “The Boogie!” nightclub.

This year’s finalists included police agencies from as far away as England. One project involved the elimination of an open-air drug market in New York; another was the reduction of vehicle thefts in Winnipeg, Canada.

Herman Goldstein, the University of Wisconsin professor for whom the award is named, said each finalist demonstrated the effectiveness of combining in-depth data analysis with intelligent problem-solving techniques.

“It is very uplifting to see this body of work, and I am very proud of what each of you have accomplished,” he said.

The effort to clean up Chula Vista’s motels began in 2003. At the time, the city’s motels were the settings for the majority of drug sales and assaults in the city.

Years of crime and data analysis, research and working with motel owners led to a new permit-to-operate ordinance that resulted in remarkable improvements.

Calls for police service dropped by 45 percent; drugs arrests dipped by 40 percent and overall motel crime plummeted by 68 percent.

The department shares its story on its Web site – and has authored a Problem-Oriented Policing guide titled “Disorder at Budget Motels.”

To Discourage Crime at Major Events ‘Show All Your Resources’

Some big cities discourage heavy police visibility at major events.

Not Anaheim.

Guests at baseball and hockey playoff games, major concerts, mixed-martial arts competitions and week-long conventions will see officers on horseback, in motorized carts, wearing SWAT gear and walking with police dogs.

Mounted Patrol

APD believes high visibility at major events deters crime. Click on the photo to read a recent OC Register story about its crime prevention efforts.

“We bring out all our bells and whistles,” said Anaheim Police Sgt. Tim Schmidt, presenting Tuesday at the 20th annual International Problem-Oriented Policing Conference at Disneyland Hotel.

He advised about 100 police officials from around the globe “to show all your resources” at major events.  “(Bad guys) are going to show up, see it and think, ‘Man, there are lot of cops here.’

Schmidt oversees Anaheim PD’s Tourism Oriented Policing (TOP) team – one of few visitor-focused units in the nation. The TOP team is dedicated to working with hotel owners, visitors bureaus, resorts and others to minimize safety and security issues.

The team is one reason Anaheim is the FBI’s safest city to visit among 35 U.S. cities with 250,000-300,000 residents.

Providing a safe environment in an area visited by millions can be challenging, noted APD Det. Dave Wiggins. Each day, the complexion of the area changes.

In January, the medical design industry held a conference at the Anaheim Convention Center. The next week it was an arts and crafts conference. Then, the international music products industry came to town.

“Can we police all three of these groups the same way?” he asked. “Each one wants a different style.”

APD has a substation at Downtown Disney. The team meets monthly with hotel owners. It routinely shares crime information with hotels and attractions through a Crime Alert Network. Its focus is long-term.

Some cities want “to keep security out of view,” he said. “We use it as a marketing tool.”

—–

Also Tuesday, University of Wisconsin professor Herman Goldstein, credited for developing the Problem-Oriented Policing model 30 years ago, discussed the approach’s benefits with several law enforcement officials.

Goldstein Welter

Chief Welter and Problem-Oriented Policing innovator Herman Goldstein

“If you use creative measures to solve problems, more people are going to respect you,” he said.

As an example, he discussed a recent case of appliance thefts from new homes in South Carolina.

Instead of relying on traditional detective methods to apprehend the thieves, police identified the root cause; builders were installing appliances before the homes were occupied.

Police worked with builders to delay installation. The problem was solved.

A more recent example where problem-oriented techniques should be applied, he said, involves the growing issue of texting while driving.

“What’s the solution?” he asked. “Passing a statute?”

A better solution, he suggested, would be to work with cell phone technologists to develop software that disables texting while in a car.

He acknowledged that it can be challenging to overcome traditional ways of thinking in police departments.

His advice: When an officer or officers work with the community to solve problems, “publicize it and reward them.”