Erie police to target social networks in crimefighting

Written by Marie Cusick/WITF | Jan 30, 2016 5:27 AM

Photo by Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News

FILE PHOTO: Members of various Lebanon County law enforcement agencies investigate a police involved shooting in the village of Campbelltown in South Londonderry Township on Monday, July 3, 2015. Police responded to a burglary at the Horseshoe Pike Gun Shop when they encountered the suspect and were fire upon. Police returned fire and the suspect died in a soybean field.

(Erie) -- Police in Erie are trying to tackle gun violence by targeting the social networks of people linked to violent crime.

Their approach is being modeled on a similar effort in Kansas City, Missouri.

Law enforcement agencies there analyzed data to find people connected to crimes and then invited them in for special "call-in" sessions to try to dissuade them from violence.

They also offered support and assistance with connecting them to education, jobs, and housing. 

Erie Chief of Police Randy Bowers is part of the effort, called UnifiedErie.

"You connect the people in the community through these incident reports and identify the members in this network," he says. "What we were able to determine, using the Kansas City format, was 'who are the players in our community?. A lot of them we already knew, but there were some other people that you wouldn't know right off the top."

Bowers is hoping to have the first of these call-in sessions in the first quarter of this year.

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