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Knoxville Regional
Transportation Planning Organization

400 Main St, Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902

phone: (865) 215-2500
fax: (865) 215-2068

PlanET Perspectives:

Connecting the Dots Between Law Enforcement, Healthy Communities and a Thriving Economy

By Chief David Rausch
Knoxville Police Department
Posted 10/14/2013

The safety and security of the City of Knoxville is the primary responsibility of the Knoxville Police Department. I was provided the opportunity to lead this excellent organization in 2011. As the Chief, my role is to assure that the resources we are provided are used efficiently and effectively. The basic role of law enforcement in a community is to control crime, traffic, and disorder issues. Community policing is the philosophy that guides the actions of our agency. Working in cooperation and collaboration with our citizens to keep our city safe is a primary focus. In terms of PlanET’s focus, I feel it is important to provide insight into what law enforcement does before I comment on what the impact of future development in our region has on what we do.

Crime control is done through prevention efforts, rapid response to calls for police services, good preliminary investigations, thorough follow up investigations, timely arrests, solid prosecutions, appropriate convictions, confinement, and rehabilitation. To impact crime, there is a focus on what is called the Crime Triangle. The Crime Triangle basically explains that crime cannot exist without three factors. The three factors are; A Suspect, A Victim, and An Opportunity. If one of these three factors can be impacted or removed then a crime cannot occur. Through effective analysis of reports and information gathered by the agency, we are able to determine the best manner to address the crime triangle in our community.

Traffic control is an area that also has a very specific manner in which it can be addressed to assure the safety of the motoring public. There are three ways to impact traffic issues known as the Three E's; Engineering, Education, and Enforcement. When a traffic issue becomes known, the first effort is to determine if the issue is one of design. The design of the roadway, which includes everything from construction to traffic signals and signs, is studied to assure that the location meets or exceeds the standards. If the Engineering is appropriate, then the next step is to educate the public on the issue through the media and other outlets. The last effort is to enhance the safety of our roadways through Enforcement.

To control disorder issues law enforcement relies heavily on the community. Disorder issues are incidents that are more of a nuisance than a violation of law, but they interrupt the normal activity of a community. These issues require officers to become referees, social workers, and psychologists. This is where problem-solving skills become vital in maintaining peace and order.

Something that I mention frequently to our officers and our citizens is that policing has a direct impact on the economics of our community. The crime levels and the feeling of safety in our city impact decisions of companies to locate in our community. Additionally, when companies decide to locate in our community, it has an impact on how we deploy our resources and what resources we need to be able to address the challenges that these new developments may bring. 
One example of the impact of development on policing that I have witnessed during my tenure in the City of Knoxville is the change in our downtown. When I started my career in 1993, the downtown area would close by 6:00 pm when all the offices closed. Downtown was included in a normal beat that was patrolled by a single patrol officer. Today, downtown is a vibrant neighborhood with a 24-hour clock and 7 days a week of activity that is patrolled by a unit of 15 officers. The impact of this change has affected the utilization of human resources in the agency.

The relationship between law enforcement and economics is symbiotic. The better job police do in keeping our community safe, the more viable the community is for continued growth and development. The more growth and development a community experiences, the greater the challenge for law enforcement to keep the community safe. As our region grows, our resources in law enforcement must also grow in order to sustain the enhanced obligations. Law Enforcement is a service profession and while technology is certainly becoming a force multiplier, it has not gotten to the point of replacing "boots on the ground." So, as we consider the manner in which we grow in our region, we must remember that growth comes with many costs and we must include safety and security in those cost calculations. This includes determining how growth will impact the agencies providing law enforcement protection and including resources to assure that these agencies are able to serve the new obligations.

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Copyright 2013 by Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission
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