Mission Possible

Julie Humphreys, 509.622.5868

Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 12:16 p.m.

The Spokane Police Department is in a trial phase of a new mission based method to stop crime.  Patterned after a similar program with the LA Police Department, mission focus targets specific areas of criminal activity with a concentrated police presence and a timeline to apprehend those responsible for the crime.

Three Spokane Police Captains and two crime analyists recently spent time with LA Police learning how their mission focus was implemented and what made it successful. SPD is constantly looking to improve its processes around fighting crime and its interaction with the community. Mission focus gives officers an added element of direction, incentive, and accountability in the field. It helps them understand and buy into the why of their daily patrols.

Captain Mark Griffiths says “We used to tell officers what to do in regard to a problem or problem area, but we weren’t always as good at explaining the why”.

Supervisors are engaging officers in the tactics needed for various incidents and allowing officers to be creative with those tactics. And most importantly, they are sharing why a particular focus is being implemented giving officers a bigger stake in attaining the overall goal. SPD has long identified “hotspots” of criminal activity. Now in assigning a more specific mission to those areas, police are experiencing positive outcomes. Mission focus is the next step in proactive versus reactive policing.

One example is with the South Precinct where vehicle prowling has spiked recently.  The mission was to apprehend a known suspect believed responsible for much of the vehicle prowling. On day three of the mission the suspect was apprehended in the act and a subsequent near 60-percent drop in larceny was seen by the end of the two week mission.

Other missions, like decreasing shop lifting incidents at Northtown Mall, have a longer duration. In this case a month. None-the-less, the mission is having an impact during early implementation. The presence of additional officers at the mall on foot patrol, police vehicles in high visibility areas, and a coordination with mall managers and security has already resulted in fewer thefts and an increased scene of security for store owners and customers.

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Julie Humphreys