SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Salt Lake City Police Department is working with the University of Texas at San Antonio to predict where crime occurs and hopefully stop it from happening. 

It’s called hot spot policing. Researchers first compile crime data that mapped when and where crime is most likely to occur. From there, police are dispatched to various areas for time periods as short as 15 minutes, depending on what data suggests. During this time, police are told to make themselves visible, turning on their lights and walking around the area if necessary. 

SLCPD would not release the exact locations of the hot spot because of safety concerns, but the department did provide three general areas listed below:

  • The Pioneer Patrol Division focus area border is from 200 North to South Temple and 700 West to 1000 West.
  • The Central Patrol Division focus area border is from 200 South to 400 South and 200 West to South State Street.
  • The Liberty Patrol Division focus area border is from 1300 South to 1500 South and 200 West to South State Street.

Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. Michael Smith, said this type of policing works because crime typically only happens in a few concentrated spots. He said this is based on the idea that in order for a crime to occur, three things need to be present: a willing offender, a potential victim and a lack of guardianship. 

“If you can address even one of those three legs of the stool, then you’re going to have a good chance of preventing a crime from happening,” said Dr. Smith. 

This is part of the police department’s short-term strategy. Salt Lake City Police said the mid-term strategy is already beginning by addressing other things that could contribute to crime in the area and work with the city to address it. The department provided the example of an area along West Temple that did not have lights. SLCPD said they worked with the city to get new lights installed in the area.