The principle is simple.
Take a problem – whether it’s kids hanging out on a South Buffalo street corner, West Side drug sales, North Buffalo house burglaries or East Side drive-by shootings – and infiltrate the area with a lot of police officers.
In Buffalo, that concept is called the Strike Force, which just finished its first 100-day initiative of 2013, sending several dozen city police officers, Erie County sheriff’s deputies and state troopers into city neighborhoods to combat and prevent crime.
“It’s high-visibility, high-saturation,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said Monday. “We see every kind of crime drop, right across the board.”
Overall, Part I crime, which includes violent crimes, burglaries, larcenies and stolen vehicles, dropped by 11 percent through the end of May this year compared with the same period last year, Derenda said. And reported shootings for the first six months of the year are down by 40.2 percent, from 117 in 2012 to 70 this year, according to the Erie Crime Analysis Center.
City officials say the Strike Force is an important component of that drop in crime.
The highly mobile Strike Force relies on intelligence culled from a variety of sources, including the chiefs of the city’s five police districts, school and housing officers, 311 calls, Common Council members’ complaints and crime analysts’ patterns.
Among the problems that attracted Strike Force attention were street robberies in the University District, burglaries in the Bailey-Delavan-Kensington area, young people committing criminal mischief in the Seneca-Duerstein area and drug activity in the Grant-Garner neighborhood.
The Strike Force sends a sizable crew of uniformed officers into that area, to combat the problem and provide a visible presence to deter crime. “They make everything disappear, from car poppings to shootings,” Derenda said of the saturated presence. “It has a huge effect.”
“In the Strike Force, we try to be preventative,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said. “It’s designed to disrupt the criminal element and make it uncomfortable for criminals to operate in the community. We are literally trying to pound the criminal element every single day.”
The effort began last year, with two 100-day initiatives.
“Because of the success last year, we made the Strike Force a permanent full-time unit,” Derenda said.
For the first 100-day period this year, from April 1 through early July, according to city police data, the Strike Force made 1,343 arrests, wrote 6,600 traffic summonses, impounded 887 vehicles, confiscated 18 guns and seized $28,629 in cash.