Reducing crime by 35%, how one Sammies Finalist made it happen – Plus your weekend reads!

Violent crime rates on Indian reservations are twice as high as the national crime rate. Charles Addington, the associate director for field operations from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was tasked with coming up with a solution to reduce crime on reservations by 5%.

Addington's data driven approach to policing was so successful, that violent crime dropped by 35%. For his outstanding work the Partnership for Public Service has made Addington a finalist for the Service to America Medals (Sammies), the Oscars for federal employees.

Addington told me that the reason crime rates are so high on Indian reservations is their remote location, low employment rate and stagnating economic development.

Addington employed an innovative use of crime-statistical analysis, community-led policing, staffing realignments and other measures to tackle the problem.

“Charlie analyzed data to determine, based on time of day, location and other intelligence information, where the crime was going to be and how he could be on the preventive side, stopping it before it happened, rather than the reactive side where officers would be responding to calls,” said Jason Thompson, BIA’s assistant director.

The program focused on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation in Montana, the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico, the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota, and now has been extended to two other reservations. The agency is sharing this model among all other Native American communities.

To ensure the program would have a large impact, Addington worked to get buy-in from tribal leadership.

"We really had to spend time to explain the program and the value of it,” Addington said. “We held community meetings and invited stakeholders to help gain support. We were also able to put our resources where the trends indicated and that showed results."

In 2012, the BIA’s Office of Justice Services published a handbook, available online, that contains best practices for reducing crime on Indian lands, and offers crime-fighting ideas and techniques to assist tribal leaders and their police departments and law enforcement partners.

You can see our interviews with all the Sammies nominees here.

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