PROVO — A new approach in crime-fighting is making Provo safer.
Last year, the serious crime rate dropped 13 percent, something the Provo Police Chief Rick Gregory credits to better communication and accountability within the department.
Every two weeks, city officials, prosecutors and community leaders meet with police officers to discuss crime trends, resources and tactics.
After crime information has been gathered and analyzed, they deploy resources to help solve the problem and see how their efforts are working.
Specific neighborhoods are discussed along with crime patterns, and lieutenants report on the areas in their jurisdiction.
“They have to be prepared to not only tell the story of what happened in the last two weeks," Gregory said, "but more importantly, what I am looking at is: What are you doing going forward?”
The follow-up is very important part of Provo's approach to crime reduction, the police chief said.
"Making sure that our guys and ladies are following up on the issues in our community and working with whoever has a piece of the puzzle … with solving the problem within the community,” he said.
The new focus is paying off. Provo's serious crime rate is dropping.
"We had great success in 2012," Gregory said.
Crimes such as homicides, sexual assaults, robbery, aggravated assaults, as well as property crimes such as burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson, are down 13 percent, he said.
The reason for the decrease, Gregory said, is that people are talking about problems they are seeing, and groups are working together with police to find solutions.
"One thing I have encouraged them to do is take some risk, be creative, be innovative,” Gregory said. “Let's try new things. Let's partner with people in our community.”
That includes involving business owners and community groups, who not only see crime in their neighborhoods, but worry about what is being done to stop it.
“We are bridging that gap that sometimes exists between organizations who can help us, hold ourselves accountable, and actually come to the table and help provide real-time solutions to the issues we are having,” Gregory said.