Womack shares Stockton’s Ceasefire story at national conference
Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security master’s degree alumnus Trevor Womack discussed how the Stockton Police Department, where he is Deputy Chief, is using analytics and intelligence to address violence at the recent 2017 National Network for Safe Communities Conference at John Jay College.
He credits his CHDS studies in refining his critical thinking, research and presentation skills that enable him to adeptly shift from talking policing with community members to parsing policy with top-flight academics on topics well beyond his thesis research.
“Even though my thesis was about consolidation of 911 dispatch centers, the process that I went through and the research I conducted helped me in everything I did going forward,” he said. “Whether it’s a broad policy decision or one made on the fly, the whole process at CHDS made me better at thinking critically to make informed decisions.”
The National Network for Safe Communities was established in 2009 with the goal of supporting municipalities building data-driven holistic programs to reduce violence and intervene in populations at risk for committing violence. At this year’s conference, Womack served as a panelist for a discussion titled “Reducing Harm: Shifting Police Culture and Practice” alongside law enforcement leaders from Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Camden, New Jersey and Birmingham, Alabama.
A program at the Stockton Police Department called Operation Ceasefire exemplifies the Network’s mission. The program fuses enforcement, intelligence and communication in a community historically plagued by gun crime. It is a sort of a whole of community approach to quashing crime that enlists clergy, education and work programs with enforcement as a last resort. Intelligence-gathering helps police target specific people rather than rushing to a blanket saturation approach that can be counterproductive to maintaining trust in the community.
The communications piece comes in the form of direct, respectful interaction with individuals along with “call-ins” of gang members that urge non-violence and provide links to resources.
“Operation Ceasefire is very person-based,” Womack noted. “We focus on people who are likely to be involved (in crime), being data driven and intelligence-led on your approach so you can focus on the right people.”
Containing violence is an important homeland security issue, Womack noted, as trust is the keystone of law enforcement success in any community. In an era of political division in which law enforcement finds itself in the middle of belligerent factions, public confidence in law enforcement is critical to combating crime.
“It really boils down to trust between the community and law enforcement,” Womack said. “How you police will affect how much the community supports you.”
As Deputy Police Chief, Womack oversees his Department’s Operations Bureau, which entails patrol, investigations, various task forces, special operations and crafting strategic plans. The department has about 440 sworn officers currently along with more than 200 civilian employees. The city has a tough reputation, with 49 murders in 2016 and as many as 71 in 2012. The good news is that so far this year the rate has slowed.
Among the CHDS course work he finds applicable is the Unconventional Threats to Homeland Security taught by David Brannan and Anders Strindberg, who apply the concept of social identity theory to people joining terrorists groups.
“Social identity theory is always in the back of my mind,” he said. “We have a lot of different groups in Stockton. All the concepts of social identity theory get down to the neighborhood level here. All those concepts apply.”