Dallas police are implementing new technology that will help patrol officers, off duty officers, undercover detectives et al. to identify repeat offenders in our neighborhood, and hopefully stop them from breaking into our cars and houses again and again.

It’s a modern-day, digital version of the old school “hook book”, a portfolio that cops once carried around, filled with mug shots of known criminals frequenting their beats.

Officer Joe King of the southeast patrol division came up with the idea to create color-coded digital charts of burglars recently arrested in the southeast patrol division where he works, according to this Morning News story. Rather than "relying on happenstance" to catch crooks, officers employ the virtual hook books to spot targeted offenders who often have active warrants, or who might be looking to commit another crime.

A few items of note in the story — the virtual hook book worked the first night it was used at the northeast patrol division, which covers Lake Highlands and a large portion of East Dallas. A deployment detective arrested a known felon within about two hours of recognizing his mug from a hook book printout. Also, Lt. Regina Smith, King’s supervisor quoted in the story, is the widow of slain officer Norman Smith, whose benefit basketball tournament we videoed a few months ago.

And, at the end of the story, officers report that many of the criminals on their hook book printout shop at the Wal Mart where they work on-the-side security jobs. "We have a very large Walmart in our division,” a south central sergeant is quoted as saying. “Several off-duty officers who work there said pretty much everybody on this board shops at Walmart. They’re going to take the wanted list for when they’re in their off-duty capacity." All the repeat offenders shop at Walmart? I never would-a guessed that.

I’ve written many a crime story since I started covering the northeast and central areas of Dallas, and the repeat criminals cause significant issues. Getting just one off the street for a few weeks or months even can cut burglary-type crimes significantly. It’s frustrating to the cops, I understand to make arrests only to see these guys back on the streets within a few days or weeks. As Smith says in the article, though, police can’t control what the county does, but they can keep making the arrests, and this new technology will help—bigtime. Now, if they could get the thug who broke into my car and get my iPod back to me …

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