Analysis of Crime Patterns, and Police Strategy in Response, Helps Convince Vendor to Relocate Business

Author: Jake Cowan and Tom Kingsley
Date Posted: August 29, 2011

In Fall 2003, a developer working in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood was looking for tenants for a renovated property known as the Old Mill Building. The building has many urban amenities, but is also located in a transitional neighborhood. A software vendor was considering relocating to Providence to occupy the Old Mill Building.

Through the developer, the software company asked specifically about crime over the last year on the blocks surrounding the Old Mill Building. The Providence Plan has an ongoing data sharing agreement with the Police Department to provide data, on a weekly basis, about crime in Providence neighborhoods. The Police Department uses these data to help plan their shifts each week. Using these data, the Providence Plan was easily able to respond to the developer’s request. They developed a presentation with data on types of crime and time of day of incidents on the blocks surrounding the Old Mill Building. The crimes in the request area were predominantly non-violent (e.g. solicitation, breaking and entering). Notably, though, there had been a police officer killed not too far from the Old Mill Building in the preceding year.

The Providence Plan shared this data summary with the Chief of Police who personally took it to the developer and got involved with recruiting the software vendor. This was a high profile recruitment for Providence, with the vendor having 400 employees. The Chief gave assurances to the software vendor that they were addressing crime issues in the neighborhood with a community-policing program in Olneyville and a substation located in the neighborhood, and were prepared to respond to any problems. The developer took the information to the software vendor, who ultimately decided to relocate the business to Providence and occupy the Old Mill Building. The vendor was impressed by the speed of the response and quality of the data, as well as the prompt response of the Police Department.

This story was initially published in Stories: Using Information in Community Building and Local Policy in June 2007.

This story was written by staff at the Urban Institute, drawn from documents and interviews with Jim Lucht and Pat McGuigan of The Providence Plan. The Providence Plan was the Providence partner in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a learning network coordinated by the Urban Institute, at the time of the story. All partners ensure communities have access to data and the skills to use information to advance equity and well-being across neighborhoods.

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