INTRO: Operation IMPACT – an initiative of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services – supports strategic crime-fighting and violence reduction initiatives in 17 counties outside of New York City that account for the vast majority of crime upstate and on Long Island. It supports local initiatives by providing funding for crime analysts, Field Intelligence Officers and prosecutors, equipment such as cameras strategically placed in high crime areas and for overtime to conduct targeted patrols. Operation IMPACT is a data-driven law enforcement initiative that requires effective strategy development based on timely use of accurate crime data; information sharing; multi-agency partnerships; and involvement of community organizations.

The following counties participate in Operation IMPACT: Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester.

SPAWN: We’re talking with Sean Byrne, acting commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Eileen Langer Smith, Criminal Justice Program Specialist at DCJS. Commissioner Byrne, can you tell me why IMPACT was started?

BYRNE: It became evident a number of years ago that the dramatic and historic reduction in crime that New York City had experienced since around 1990 was not being realized by the rest of the state.

The proportion of crime reported in New York City and outside New York City has shifted markedly. In 1990, New York City accounted for about 63 percent of the statewide crime and the rest of the state accounted for 37 percent. By 2000, New York City and the rest of the state each reported roughly half the statewide index crime; last year, New York City reported 43 percent of the index crime and the remainder of the state reported approximately 58 percent.

In a nutshell, IMPACT was created to assist the higher crime counties of upstate and Long Island.

SPAWN: How does IMPACT help those areas?

BYRNE: Operation IMPACT is a cooperative effort involving 80 different law enforcement agencies working together to fight crime in the jurisdictions that have the highest volume of violent crime within their respective counties.

Among its main objectives are: the development of effective crime reduction strategies based on timely accurate crime data; providing resources necessary to implement those strategies; the improvement of crime analysis and criminal intelligence capabilities; and the enhancement of the District Attorney’s ability to effectively prosecute cases. IMPACT provides state support for prosecutors and field intelligence officers, for equipment such as surveillance cameras and funding for special operations, such as undercover initiatives.

SPAWN: How are the grants awarded?

BYRNE: IMPACT grants are awarded competitively, with priority given to those jurisdictions with the highest volume of crime. Each expenditure must bear a direct relationship to the overarching goal of reducing violent crime, and DCJS continually monitors the effectiveness of the program through monthly crime trend meetings with the IMPACT partners.

SPAWN: Tell me about the crime analysis centers.

BYRNE: During the past two years, DCJS worked closely with law enforcement officials in Albany, Erie, Monroe and Onondaga counties to establish four high-tech Crime Analysis Centers. These centers have revolutionized the way law enforcement fights crime.

Each center provides county law enforcement – police and probation departments, and sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices – with a centrally-located unit responsible for conducting in-depth analysis of its county’s crime data.

The centers’ unique technologies allow crime analysts to access, search and mine data on a multitude of databases. Intelligence generated by the Crime Analysis Centers enables law enforcement executives to make decisions about tactical day-to-day police deployment and long-term planning, provides investigators with leads to solve crimes and gives officers on the street crucial information that keeps them, and the public, safer.

The Crime Analysis Centers build upon partnerships established under Operation IMPACT, and expand the key philosophies of that initiative – accurate use of timely crime data, use of technology to complement and enhance traditional crime-fighting strategies.  
SPAWN: That sounds great. But what if anything is the state doing for those communities that are not IMPACT sites? After all, IMPACT only covers 17 counties. Eileen would you like to address this?

LANGER: I’d be happy to. IMPACT does only focus on 17 counties and it was designed that way for a reason. When you’re looking to reduce overall crime statewide, you need to target the areas that make up most of that crime. The 17 IMPACT counties account for more than 80 percent of the statewide crime volume outside of NYC.  We created IMPACT Tools for the smaller counties upstate that do not have the volume of crime of the 17 larger IMPACT counties, but do have crime problems that we can help address through our program.   

SPAWN: What is IMPACT Tools?

LANGER: IMPACT Tools is designed to extend the key principles of Operation IMPACT – such as intelligence-based policing, partnerships among law enforcement agencies and timely use of accurate crime data – to suburban and rural areas so they can identify trends and develop and implement effective strategies to tackle violent and drug crimes that tear at the fabric of their communities.

The 40 counties outside of New York City that do not participate in Operation IMPACT – or municipalities within IMPACT counties that are currently not part of that initiative – are eligible to apply for funding.

SPAWN: Commissioner Byrne, Eileen Langer, thank you for being with us today. Through IMPACT and IMPACT Tools, New York State is working with localities to fight crime and make our communities safe places to live, work, and raise our families.