1988 Finalist
City of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

The Repeat Call Address Policing (RECAP) unit seeks out chronic problems of crime and disorder. This differs greatly from standard police strategy, which merely reacts to acute incidents of crime and disorder. The mission of RECAP is to solve the chronic problems at some of the 3 percent of all addresses generating 50 percent of all calls to police in the city. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to reduce crime, make Minneapolis more livable, and prevent the middle class flight plaguing many large cities.

RECAP consists of four police officers and a sergeant. The scope of their operations in RECAP's experimental year, 1987, was 250 of the highest call frequency addresses in the city, which produced a total of 20,000 police calls in 1986. Half of the addresses were commercial and half were residential. In 1988, a new operational plan will rank order all addresses for call frequency every quarter, with 50 targets selected for action each quarter.

RECAP officers provide services including: 1) reviewing all police reports and call histories on, and meeting with persons knowledgeable about, each address to diagnose the problems; 2) developing an action plan for solving one or several problems at that address; 3) persuading various organizations and individuals to implement the action plan; 4) conducting weekly follow up analysis of the frequency of calls at the address in order to decide whether to 5) develop and implement a revised action plan.

In concrete terms, the diagnoses varied from liquor being served to intoxicated persons in bars, to elderly tenants being mixed with mentally ill handicapped persons in the same public housing units, to the lack of restricted nighttime access to the YMCA lobby. The action plans varied from seeking to have the liquor licenses revoked in certain bars, to pressing the housing authority to change its tenant mix policies, to pressing the YMCA to install a lock and door buzzer system for use in the lobby after 9 p.m. The follow-ups revealed that some plans got implemented and reduced calls (liquor license suspension; drug raid), a few plans never got implemented (tenant mix policy change), others were implemented after a lengthy battle (lobby access control), and some were implemented without reducing calls (threatened prosecution of slumlord to get building doors repaired).

During the experimental year, the officers kept careful track of what they did at each address, so that by late March they were able to draft a 500-page casebook on problem address policing for use in training police departments around the U.S. They have also spent much time advising other police officers on their approach, and pressing them to comply with such department policies as arresting spouse abusers.

The most important indirect benefit of RECAP has been to convince city officials that some chronic problems can be addressed with sufficient documentation. The best example is the most violent bar in town. Computer analysis showed that a nightly patron of the bar had a one out of four chance of being assaulted. The record of several hundred violence and disturbance calls provided the evidence the city council needed to revoke the bar's license for 30 days.