The Brain Behind Operation ‘Blue Crush’ Retires

(Memphis) To many, the words crime and Memphis go hand in hand.

Operation Blue Crush revolutionized the way crime is fought in the City of Memphis.

Believe it or not the man behind Blue Crush isn’t a cop.

He’s a University of Memphis professor and he’s retiring after an illustrious career which  impacts you every day.

It all started with a lunch at Piccadilly.

Memphis Professor Richard Janikowski met with then Police director Larry Godwin to talk about new ways to improve crime.

“MPD opened its doors both to talking about new strategy and sharing data. Very few police departments had ever shared data with researchers,” said Janikowski.

The answer was Blue Crush, an unprecedented sharing of police data between officers and an analyst who crunches the numbers.

“The underlying strategy is very simple. Put the police in the right place at the right day at the right time and good things will happen,” said Janikowski.

The program sent mobile task forces to hotspots around Memphis.

In its first 7 years, violent crime was down 23%.

Burglaries went down five times the national average.

Janikowski says looking back, the area most impacted by Blue Crush was apartments around the city where violent crime was cut by more than 35%.

In fact, the program was so successful when it rolled out almost a decade ago, departments around the country started copying it.

Blue Crush has now evolved into a more intense and targeted community policing strategy at chronic crime hotspots.

Wednesday is Janikowski’s last day at the University of Memphis, and after revolutionizing the police department for the 18th largest city in the natio,n he will now retire to the quiet mountains of North Carolina.

But, he says his brainchild is in good hands, “The best part of it is data driven policing is here to stay and the leadership of the department and other agencies is going to ensure that it continues to evolve.”

Janikowski says despite recent bumps crime, in Memphis is on a downward trend because of Blue Crush.


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