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Is the Village of Bensenville and the ICPA Launching Crime Prevention 2.0?

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Bensenville, IL—On June 5, 2014, a clear and beautiful day in the Village of Bensenville, Illinois, over 30 different police officers met for the 2014 Crime Prevention Summit. The title of this year meeting: “Take a Bite Out of Crime! In the room, federal and local police officers were meeting to learn from each other and to network.

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David Ratkovich, President and the Board of Directors of the Illinois Crime Prevention Association (ICPA) brought together some of the top crime prevention experts from different police departments to present about their best practices and discuss new programs in the crime prevention field.

Among the attendees, was Chief Anye Whyte from the US Customs and Border Protection. Also, Benjamin Ferdinand, Assistant Federal Security Director for DHS/TSA at O’Hare. Both high-ranking officials stated they came to the meeting to learn and to network with the police officers in the room.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was also present in the room.

At the opening of the summit, Chief Frank Kosman from the Bensenville Police Department opened with a speech of the “Nine Principles of Policing.” The principles may have been authored by Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, the first joint Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police, back in 1829.

Starting the day with the recitation of the nine principles of policing was perhaps one of the most significant moments in my career. It sets in perspective the reasons for choosing a law enforcement career and I am sure the rest in the group felt the same.

Chief Kosman stated each one of the principles verbatim. Most if not all the 9 principles are rooted in crime prevention.

Deputy Chief John Lustro, Sgt. Zodrow and Sgt. Dooley with the Bensenville Police Department were also present.

During the presentations, one of the programs that got my attention was the “Care Track Emergency Response Kit,” a program Sgt. John Nebl, from the Schaumburg Police Department described as a great system to assist police agencies locate at risk children and adults.

Sgt. Nebl has been involved in Crime Prevention and he is considered one of the top authorities in the Crime Prevention field in the United States.

Another presenter was Tom Brady, Director of Homeland Security at the College of Du Page. Director Brady discussed his experience as a high-ranking US Postal Inspector and how crime prevention had a lot to do with preventing crimes that involve overseas criminals.

Director Brady stated that police forces must be able to educate their communities and must be able to encourage people to report crime. He encourages police officers to continue to get continuing education because of the globalization of crime.

Another presentation was given by the Niles Police Department. Officer Ron Brandt and Sgt. Robert Tornabene showed some of the videos they are producing to educate their community.

In one video they present the process of a “Ruse Entry Burglary.” A crime that is commonly is perpetrated to the elderly, by so called “Gypsy Scam.” Regardless of who perpetrates the crime, this is a crime has serious consequences to the most venerable in our society.

In the United States in the last 10 years, as well as in other parts of the world, public safety has been under pressure and forced into a rapid evolution. Adapting to the new threats and modern crimes require a more robust crime prevention policing approach.

Rethinking how Crime Prevention 2.0 could be launched with local and federal police personnel could be the way to combat the globalization of crime. In this room, in Bensenville, it appears that it is possible.

However, one of the biggest challenges for the crime prevention practice has been the shrinking budgets in public safety. This challenge in many ways makes “Crime Prevention” an optional part of policing. This is of course in complete contradiction to the “Nine Principles of Policing.”

The results are that crime prevention programs installed are quickly abandoned, when the crime prevention officers are removed. When this happens, people in the jurisdictions are left on their own to figure out how to prevent crime. Perhaps it worked in the past, before the Internet when crime was a local matter.

In this room in Bensenville, the group is the exception to the rule. While the police departments are dealing with budge problems like everyone else, the crime prevention officers and their superiors are committed to crime prevention and their communities recognize that commitment. The federal agents in the room are also committed to preventing crimes with their partners at the local level.

In this room, each of the presenters presented their own unique ways they practice crime prevention.

Two factors make crime prevention highly necessary:

  1. The globalization of crime. Today, criminals from other parts of the world are committing crime inside their jurisdictions.
  2. The only real fight against the constant attack from these highly sophisticated criminals involves the crime prevention efforts by the police.

The need to keep people informed of criminal activity and methods is the only way to prevent crime from occurring. The globalization phenomenon also demands a far more involvement of federal agencies to work closely with the local police agencies in order to coordinate their efforts.

In Bensenville, DHS, TSA, FBI, CPD, CDA, and the US Customs & Border Protection are always working and training together. The Bensenville PD today has ties with the RCMP and the Australian Federal Police with programs they are developing and testing to fight crime.

Michael Cassady, Village Manager for the Village of Bensenville stated recently, “We are seeing positive participation from these community based safety initiatives. The significant and quantifiable results of these programs have gotten the attention of police agencies at all levels with jurisdictions proximate to major transportation assets. Other US cities, as well as international cities, are seeing value in the Bensenville Model.”

Every day, a phone call from an overseas criminal will empty a bank account of a victim and perhaps end the only savings the victim had for retirement. Traditional crimes are also increasing in the level of sophistication with devastating results.

There is no question that the reactive policing practices of the past cannot longer sustain the amount of criminal activity by elements from outside their jurisdiction.

Perhaps it is time to rethink crime prevention and bring Crime Prevention 2.0. Chief Kosman’s speech of the “Nine Principles of Policing” should be re-introduced back to the police forces.

Chief Kosman calls his crime prevention programs a “force multiplier.” Bensenville is a town of 20,000 people, which today has a non-traditional Neighborhood Watch Program with 600 members. Chief Kosman also has a summer soccer league with 400 children and 250 adults that plays until September with the focus on crime prevention and community. This league recruits children and adults from the apartment buildings.

In context, Bensenville is a town where about 60% of the calls are crime prevention related when put against all Category 1 and 2 Crimes in 2013, as an example.

I end this article where I started. It is time to rethink Crime Prevention 2.0. I would argue that it should be the priority in all police forces and not an optional practice that exists only until the budget permits or until the patrol division runs into a shortage.

The Illinois Crime Prevention Association is on the right track. It is time for Crime Prevention 2.0 to be released.

I want to thank Adam Miller from ETS Intelligence for all his assistance and accommodations during the event.

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