Memphis Police Department: Keeping ahead of criminals by finding the “hot spots”

Smarter Planet Leadership Series Video

Published on 28-Jan-2011

Validated on 13 Dec 2013

Memphis Police Department


Deployment country:
United States

Big Data & Analytics, Business Continuity, BA - Business Intelligence, Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet:
Leadership Series, Smarter Cities, Smarter Government, Smarter Public Safety


In the six years since he’s been Director of Police Services for Memphis, Larry Godwin has proven a firm advocate for the merits of intelligent policing practices. Along the way, he’s shown that openness, accountability, and a willingness to listen and learn are an important foundation.

How Accomplished:
With traditional policing practices unable to thwart a rising rate of criminal activity and budgets tight, the Memphis PD pioneered a way to focus their patrol resources more intelligently. By recognizing crime trends as they are happening, MPD’s predictive enforcement tool gives precinct commanders the ability to change their tactics and redirect their patrol resources in a way that both thwarts crimes before they happen and catches more criminals in the act.

A willingness to try... While Director Larry Godwin realized that the MPD’s existing practices weren’t working to stem a steady rise in Memphis’s crime rate, he realized that there were no “silver bullet” solutions. His willingness to experiment and break cultural barriers opened the door to solving the problem. “You can have all the technology in the world, but if you don’t have the leadership and the guts to make some changes, you probably won’t succeed.” — Larry Godwin, Director of Police Services, Memphis Police Department

Lessons Learned:
Listening the key to buy‐in... While conceived at the top, the success of the predictive policing initiative hung largely on getting patrol officers on the street to take ownership—and that meant a willingness to listen and learn. “We involved officers throughout the process, communicated to them the ‘big picture’ of what we’re trying to achieve, and then showed them the results. This taps into the fact that officers like to do something good and like when the department invests in its people.” — Larry Godwin

- 30% reduction in serious crime overall, including a 36.8% reduction in crime in one targeted area -15% reduction in violent crime - 4x increase in the share of cases solved in the MPD’s Felony Assault Unit (FAU), from 16 percent to nearly 70 percent - Overall improvement in the ability to allocate police resource in a budget-constrained fiscal environment


Memphis PD is the 16th largest police department in the U.S.

Consisting of nine precincts and 2470 officers
And protecting 670,000 citizens in the metro area

Video Transcript

IBM Leadership Series Customer Reference
Memphis Police Department

Interviewees: Larry Godwin – Director, Memphis Police Department,
Jim Harvey – Deputy Chief of Administrative Services

TEXT: SMART IS…Fighting Crime With Data

Memphis PD is the 16th largest police department in the U.S.
Consisting of nine precincts and 2470 officers
And protecting 670,000 citizens in the metro area

Larry Godwin: I was hired to reduce crime. The mayor said I want this crime problem fixed and he got him a crime fighter.

Everything was working before, no it wasn't working before. And why do you need this? Because you have got to keep up with the time and you have got to move with technology. You show the mayor what you have got, he supports you. He goes before council, council gives you support, because at the end of the day everybody wants to reduce crime and everybody wants a safe community because without it you don't have economic growth, you don't have anything.

That's kind of where we started when crime started rising back in 2005, by the time you got the information, the information was old, by the time you put out a plan, you are working on something and it's changed three or four times since then. We were still doing things the way we had always done things and when you do that, you can expect the same results.

Jim Harvey: We started out with the University of Memphis, they came in and used IBM's SPSS to create a statistical package.

Larry Godwin And that's kind of where Blue CRUSH was formed. CRUSH is Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History so using the data, using the history of crime to predict where you are going next and how are you going to deploy officers.

Jim Harvey: Say an officer gets a call on a burglary, he goes out to the scene, takes his PDA into the house with him and he takes the information down from the victim. When the report hits the system the crime analyst immediately has access to it. It tells us what our percentages are on all of the different crimes in the city as a whole, and shows each precinct commander where he is for that day, and where he is month-to-date, and where he is year-to-date, and where he is year-to-date over the past five years. The IBM solution has allowed us to take a new look and gain a totally different perspective on our data that we've always had.

Larry Godwin: And that's why you are seeing crime down 28% over five years, why you are seeing crime down 14% when we look at last year to this year, that's why you are seeing those things is everything we're doing. And gosh dang, you are going to have a passion for it. Tell me an officer that doesn't like to lock up a bad guy, I mean that's what they do, that's what they love, that's what makes their day.

TEXT: The Memphis Police Department solution is based on:
IBM SPSS Statistics

IBM Business partner:

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

SPSS Statistics Standard