A groundbreaking partnership between the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) aimed at reducing violent crime has yielded promising results, according to the latest review. The research-based plan, which was implemented by the department in January, has already shown a significant decrease in citywide violent crimes.
UTSA Criminology and Criminal Justice Professor Michael Smith revealed that during the first six months of 2023, violent street crime dropped by approximately 13 percent compared to the same period in 2022. This decline is a testament to the effectiveness of the plan’s implementation.
Since January, a team of six researchers at UTSA has been working closely with SAPD to implement the San Antonio Violent Crime Reduction Plan. Although only one part of the three-part plan has been adopted so far, Police Chief William McManus expressed his satisfaction with its success.
Addressing the District 10 public safety town hall on Tuesday night, Chief McManus attributed the decrease in crime to the plan, which he initially approached with skepticism. However, after examining the research conducted by UTSA’s Professor Michael Smith, he became convinced of its efficacy.
Chief McManus emphasized that all of Professor Smith’s studies supporting the initiative are evidence-based, leaving no room for doubt. The plan itself consists of three primary strategies, the first of which involves increasing police presence in 28 high-crime areas, known as hot spots. Officers spend 15 minutes parked in these locations with their lights on during peak-crime times.
The hot spots are regularly adjusted based on crime trends, but SAPD has refrained from disclosing their current locations to ensure officer safety. Professor Smith’s six-month review indicated that the first phase of the plan has been successful, with a significant reduction in crime rates of about 42 percent in the treated hot spots.
However, Professor Smith emphasized that the hot spot strategy alone cannot fully resolve San Antonio’s crime issue. He described it as a foundational strategy that helps reduce violence in the city while other medium and long-term strategies are implemented. The department is now preparing to move into phase two, where the focus will be on identifying contributing factors in crime-ridden areas and collaborating with various city departments to address them. The third phase of the plan will target high-risk repeat offenders.
Both Professor Smith and Chief McManus expressed confidence in the continued positive outcomes of the plan. They believe that success speaks for itself, and they are committed to seeing the plan through, which is projected to take about three years to fully implement. If necessary, the plan can be expanded to tackle additional areas and challenges.
In conclusion, the UTSA and SAPD partnership, coupled with the research-based San Antonio Violent Crime Reduction Plan, has shown tremendous promise in combatting violent crime in the city. The plan’s initial phase has resulted in a notable decrease in crime rates, demonstrating the effectiveness of the strategies implemented. With ongoing collaboration and a comprehensive approach, San Antonio is poised to make significant strides in ensuring the safety and well-being of its residents.