Over 70 Law Enforcement Agencies Gather in San Francisco for Crime Strategies Symposium

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News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón


March 10, 2017

Twitter: @GeorgeGascon

CONTACT:          ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931

                MAXWELL SZABO (415) 553-9089


Modern law enforcement agencies using data and technology to identify major crime drivers

SAN FRANCISCO – Law enforcement agencies spanning the nation met in San Francisco this week to learn about a modern approach to crime fighting that integrates data and forensic analysis.  The approach involves prosecutors working hand in hand with data analysts to understand what and who is driving crime, and to develop concrete, data-driven approaches to address it.  At the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, this work is conducted by our Crime Strategies Unit (CSU).

“Whether it’s ending an epidemic of auto burglaries, or disrupting a ring of human traffickers – our crime strategies unit is pioneering new methods to identify and prosecute the worst offenders,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “We know that roughly 90% of crime is perpetrated by just 10% of criminals, and accordingly this strategy can have dramatic impacts on public safety.”

Some of the many cases where CSU has been instrumental include the 97-year to life sentence for the trafficking and sexual assault of two minorsthe indictment of 16 defendants in connection with an organized retail theft conspiracy spanning the United Statesand the arrest of an individual responsible for a spate of auto thefts

In fact, CSU’s activities are assisting SFPD with the apprehension of some of the most prolific auto burglars, and SFDA’s dedicated auto burglary and auto theft Assistant District Attorney is embedded within the CSU team.  CSU analysts strengthen SFDA and SFPD effectiveness on auto burglaries by providing Neighborhood Prosecutors and police with information about hot spots and chronic offenders. 

San Francisco’s CSU was modelled after the unit originally developed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.  When the New York District Attorney’s Office implemented this exact same program, they saw a 76% reduction in overall shootings in East Harlem, and a 42% reduction in overall shootings in Manhattan over three years.

“Intelligence-Driven Prosecution means using the best available data to help make the best decisions possible,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.  “When I formed a Crime Strategies Unit in Manhattan in 2010, one of the initial goals was to expand information-sharing among prosecutors in my Office, so that intelligence was not stuck in a case file or legal pad, but available to others whose cases might benefit from it. Today, I see Intelligence-Driven Prosecution as breaking down silos to ensure that effective crime-fighting strategies and best practices are shared across jurisdictions. I would like to thank San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon for hosting this conference, and his Office for being at the forefront of Intelligence-Driven Prosecution.”

In addition to data analysts at the Hall of Justice, CSU Prosecutors are assigned to the City’s ten police Districts. Each CSU Prosecutor spends time outside of the office, at the police district stations, and working in the communities they serve. They attend a wide range of meetings, from resident and merchant groups to local Police Advisory Boards. Their role at these gatherings is to both inform and to become informed, and work closely with community members and law enforcement partners to develop public safety strategies to address the neighborhood’s unique challenges.