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Media portrayals show police officers at work when laws already have been broken. However, a large part of policing is also devoted to preventing crime in the first place, to removing the conditions that facilitate the commission of crime. This is particularly important in smaller communities, which often do not have extensive resources for investigation and incarceration.
In the small town of Anacortes, WA, for example, the police department devotes much of its resources to preventing crime and ensuring police safety. In 2006, they invested in equipping cars with laptop computers that are hooked up to databases, so officers could pull up information more quickly. Police officers are also dispatched on crime prevention activities. A recent campaign, for example, targetted the practice of vehicle prowl where thieves steal valuables that are often stashed in cars. These campaigns are stepped up in the summertime, a time when police determined that more such thefts occur (Jackson 2007).
Anacortes police are also actively trying to address the rise of another form of theft in their community - identity theft. After studying the problem, Anacortes officials noted that the investigation of identity theft takes a large amount of resources to investigate. However, the crime itself is not always complex and could easily be prevented.
Thus, the police department is conducting scam awareness and identity theft information sessions. Many of these programs are addressed towards senior citizens, often the targets of identity thieves (Jackson 2007). By devoting resources towards the prevention of crime, Anacortes authorities therefore help to ensure that the community remains relatively free from crimes in the first place[continue]
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