Sixty percent of Tucson's shootings in 2020 occurred in four percent of the city's geographic area, which police are addressing by acting as "street-corner problem solvers," connecting people with the help they need while also working to stop crime, reports the Arizona Daily Star. Officials announced last year amid rising homicide rates that they'd use new, evidence-based strategies to address rising gun violence in parts of town. That includes a tactic called Place Network Investigations where the large majority of violence happens in a small area.
While law enforcement experts laud the effort, a local nonprofit calls this type of hot-spot policing antiquated and harmful to the communities it targets. Place Network Investigations combine data about geography and offenders, helping police predict to some degree where violence will occur. They take into account not only the place where crime happens, but also places feeding into that location. In addition to Tucson, the approach is used in Las Vegas; Philadelphia; Denver; Wichita; Baton Rouge, La., and Harris County, Tx. Tucson's programs will be in place for at least three years. After police and others clean up a troubled area, they'll have the time to break down remaining criminal networks and address problems in surrounding areas instead of simply moving on to the next task. Caroline Isaacs of the nonprofit Just Communities Arizona said the program is nothing Tucson hasn't already seen. Just Communities seeks to end the current punishment system's emphasis on criminalization, surveillance and mass incarceration. "From our perspective, the bottom line is the punishment system as it's designed will never be successful," Isaacs said. "Punishment does not solve problems."