Identifying Priority Individuals, Charges, and Locations Within the Jurisdiction

To implement an arrest alert system, planners should establish criteria on how to identify priority individuals, charges, and locations, while ensuring its appropriate use. Priority individuals are often those responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime; priority charges are usually crimes that have a major impact on community safety and well-being; and priority locations may include “hot spots” where crime frequently occurs.

The first step in identifying priority arrests is gaining an accurate understanding of local crime issues by analyzing data and reaching out to both community leaders and law enforcement. Throughout this process, care should be taken to protect the privacy of personal information of individuals and the public through auditing and controls.

To begin developing and planning for intelligence-driven prosecution strategies, including the Arrest Alert system, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (the Manhattan D.A.’s Office) divided Manhattan into five geographic areas. The areas were divided based on types and volume of crime, and they were drawn along police precinct lines in order to ensure coordination with the New York City Police Department (NYPD). A senior prosecutor was assigned to each designated area. To become experts on the crime issues within their areas, these prosecutors met with police officers and community leaders to learn about local crime.

They analyzed statistics on crime, gang activity, and “hot spots” of criminal activity. And they asked precinct commanders to identify 25 crime drivers and explain why each was a priority. The Office’s Crime Strategies Unit managed this information and collected it in a briefing book, which summarized each precinct’s criminal activity.

Since the program was launched, prosecutors are able to create new arrest alerts based on an individual, charge, or location they determine to be a priority. In order to remain current on evolving local crime trends and priority arrests, prosecutors at the Manhattan D.A.’s Office can access the Arrest Alert system through a database on their desktop computers, which provides them with a wealth of information regarding homicides, shootings, and gangs. In addition to these continuous system updates that may be accessed at any time by prosecutors, the Crime Strategies Unit briefs the Office’s executives twice a year and will host briefings for the trial division as requested on crime trends observed throughout New York City, with a focus on Manhattan.