Mission Viejo once prided itself on being the third safest city in the nation in 2009. However, in 2017 Mission Viejo was only ranked the No. 19 safest city in the state. In that same year, neighboring Rancho Santa Margarita, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Woods were ranked Nos. 2, 3, and 4 in terms of safest cities, respectively. Most of Mission Viejo’s crime consists of property crimes, but violent crimes such as domestic violence are on the rise and still making headlines. We must adopt best practices and base our policy decisions on what works—that is, we must start moving toward more evidence-based policing.
Obviously there is room for improvement even though Mission Viejo is a relatively safe
community. Evidence-based policing will help local governments, such as Mission Viejo, tailor police service and crime prevention resources to specifically address their communities’ particular problems. Many constituents have told me, for example, that they have had packages stolen from their porches recently. There are some good methods for reducing property crime, but we need the most up-to-date research in order to keep our community safe.
The move toward evidence-based policing could simply start with improving access to crime statistics and other data obtained by officers. By making more data public and making existing databases more easily accessible, studies can be performed that will help police to do their jobs most efficiently and thus reduce costs. Utilizing current data and technologies can help police better target their resources to stop crime faster than ever.
Crime data may seem like a benign issue, but few agencies define and categorize crimes in the same way which creates a fundamental problem for police and criminologists. For example, under California law “domestic violence” can include behavior ranging from
harassment and stalking, to battery and rape. Adding even just small pieces of extra information (such as what type of domestic violence incident or violent crime occurred) would help tremendously to further research that would help save lives and make communities safer.
There is a lot we can do to work to make our communities safer. We now have enormous power at our disposal with the advent of modern technologies. We must use these technologies to their full potential to ensure that we can all lead safe, productive lives. Better utilizing data and information technologies will help cities like Mission Viejo deal with their specifics problems quickly, effectively, and cheaply.