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High visibility crime prevention - Night Eyes, Footprints, and RSVP programs.

Citizens often complain that police officers do not patrol their neighborhoods. In all probability, residents perceive this lack of attention because they do not actually see an officer on duty in the area. This is why it is important for police departments to initiate programs that make officers visible to the public. The City of North Miami Beach, Florida, Police Department (NMBPD) instituted three such programs--Night Eyes, Footprints, and the Revolving Saturated Visibility Patrol (RSVP)--to do just that.

Night Eyes

The Night Eyes Program, which began in April 1991, requires all officers assigned to the 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift to visit at least five business locations in their assigned areas each night. During these visits, officers walk around the outside of the business, noting any problems. They then record their observations, along with their name, badge number, and the date and time of their visit, on specially designed information cards, which they leave at the establishments. The officers do not enter any establishment unless they see some indication of criminal activity that legally justifies such entry. At the end of the night, the officers turn in a list of the contacts that they made during their shift. NMBPD officers check an average of 40 businesses nightly.

Members of the NMBPD Crime Prevention, Community Patrol, and Detective Units designed the Night Eyes card. While the back of the card includes the information mentioned above, the front depicts the Night Eyes logo and the department's crime tip of the month.

The local chamber of commerce financed the initial printing of 5,000 cards, at a cost of approximately $160. Currently, other local businesses and print shops compete for the privilege of printing the cards, which attests to the support of the program by neighborhood establishments.

Footprints

The Night Eyes Program proved so successful with the business community that the department instituted the Footprints Program for residential areas. Officers assigned to day or afternoon shifts record 5 residential contacts per day, totaling approximately 100 daily contacts for the department. After checking the outside of the house, the officer completes the information on the Footprints card, which is almost identical to the Night Eyes card, and leaves the card at the residence. As with the Night Eyes Program, at no time do officers enter the residences without proper legal authority.

This program places police officers in personal contact with citizens. Officers now exit their vehicles to talk with those who live on their beats. In essence, they meet the public face to face.

RSVP

The NMBPD integrated the Night Eyes and Footprints Programs into a new approach called the Revolving Saturated Visibility Patrol (RSVP) Program. By analyzing department crime statistics and interacting with the community, the NMBPD can determine which areas require increased officer patrols. Uniform patrol units then flood these areas for a 10-, 20-, or 30-day period, leaving the appropriate Night Eyes or Footprints card at the businesses or residences they visit.

Results

All three NMBPD programs have met with universal success. Both business owners and homeowners continuously communicate their appreciation of the programs to department personnel. The department's patrol officers also demonstrate great enthusiasm for the programs, by handing out, on average, 355 cards per shift. In turn, the program allows officers to receive firsthand criminal activity information, meet crime victims for followup investigations, and even get an exercise break. Most importantly, the North Miami Beach area registered a decrease in the crime rate since the department instituted these programs.

Future Plans

In order to increase community involvement, the NMBPD encourages local businesses to not only print the cards but also to include incentives, such as discount coupons on them. Residents who receive the cards can redeem them at various establishments in the community. This will cover printing costs for the department, generate sales for local businesses, and garner support for and awareness of the NMBPD's programs.

Conclusion

An effective community policing program requires interaction with the public. By implementing such crime prevention strategies as the Night Eyes, Footprints, and/or RSVP Programs, a police department administrator can actually measure the number of contacts between officers and citizens.

The police officers in the program develop a sense of responsibility for the areas that they patrol, while earning citizens' trust. The citizens benefit from an increase in security and a decrease in crime. In the end, everyone wins--everyone except the criminal, that is.

Chief Berger commands the City of North Miami Beach, Florida, Police Department.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Federal Bureau of Investigation
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Night Eyes and Footprints programs; Revolving Saturated Visibility Patrol Program
Author:Berger, William B.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:748
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