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Law Enforcement Wants To Try 'Predictive Policing'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the don't-anger-the-precogs dept.

Crime 377

Harperdog with this excerpt from a story about using statistics to fight crime: "It’s great when cops catch criminals after they've done their dirty work. But what if police could stop a crime before it was even committed? Though that may sound like a fantasy straight from a Philip K. Dick novel, it's a goal police departments from Los Angeles to Memphis are actively pursuing with help from the Department of Justice and a handful of cutting-edge academics. It's called 'predictive policing.' The idea: Although no one can foresee individual crimes, it is possible to forecast patterns of where and when homes are likely to be burgled or cars stolen by analyzing truckloads of past crime reports and other data with sophisticated computer algorithms. 'We know where crime has occurred in the last month, but that doesn't mean it'll be there next month,' Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Sean Malinowski says. 'The only way for us to continue to have crime reduction is to start anticipating where crime is going to occur.'"

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377 comments

This is a joke... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698640)

... right?

Re:This is a joke... (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699042)

"Upon turning on their version of this new program for the first time for testing, before even connecting the data banks, the LA police department's computer algorithms predicted with a near-100% degree of certainty, several instances of hit-and-runs, public drunkenness, drug possession, and prostitution arrests within an irregular triangle with the 3 corners at the respective properties of Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton"

^THAT is a joke.

They're spending a lot of money on this? (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698646)

Are they spending a lot of money for a fancy computer system that will tell them to watch out for crime in the crime ridden part of town?

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (3, Funny)

SengirV (203400) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698694)

No, that would be profiling. And we all know that is frowned upon these days.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (2, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698862)

I know! How dare people expect more evidence than the person is black in determining whether they are a criminal or not. Such madness.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699070)

I was just walking along with a crowbar in my hand, and the pig stopped me and started hassling me about why there are 5 cars with busted windows just down the street from me.

Clearly, I was profiled because I'm black.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698728)

Are they spending a lot of money for a fancy computer system that will tell them to watch out for crime in the crime ridden part of town?

Yes, they are.

And, if the computer algorithms are any good, it will also show that shoplifting from grocery stores is on the rise in the week prior to Thankgiving and packages burgled from automobiles in retail store parking lots is very high between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Spending money to research the blatantly obvious is an American tradition.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698774)

Spending money to research the blatantly obvious is an American tradition.

I have never been so insulted! As an American I'm going to fund a multi-year project to prove to you that we do not in fact spend too much money researching the obvious. Now if you'll excuse me I have my cushy federal job to get back to.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698900)

I should think as a American you should be happy that police are finally changing their focus from drug users to home break ins and car thefts.

You should be cheering the end of easy arrests for drugs and the efforts to pursue crimes with innocent victims.

Most people are sick of home break ins, car thefts and even muggings as being treated like nothing by the police and the victims generally having no hope of seeing justice, if this study is positive sign of a true change of focus, then it is about time.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36699006)

Is it possible that those break-ins and muggings you mention derive from people trying to get shit to sell for their drugs?

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (1, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698898)

Are they spending a lot of money for a fancy computer system that will tell them to watch out for crime in the crime ridden part of town?

Yes, they are.

And, if the computer algorithms are any good, it will also show that shoplifting from grocery stores is on the rise in the week prior to Thankgiving and packages burgled from automobiles in retail store parking lots is very high between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Spending money to research the blatantly obvious is an American tradition.

In the same way that beating down any new idea by pointing out the most obvious potential flaws (as if the designer of a new system has no possible way of seeing that flaw himself) is a Slashdot tradition.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698972)

Im sure there are other uses for this other than just mining the obvious out of the data. There will be correlations that aren't so obvious that it may bring to light. Just because it probably will find the obvious doesn't mean it wont find the not so obvious.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (4, Interesting)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698966)

Are they spending a lot of money for a fancy computer system that will tell them to watch out for crime in the crime ridden part of town?

While your comment makes a good sound bite, that's not the idea behind predictive analytics. You want to look for factors that can forecast a certain type of event or events before they occur. If you find the right ones you can take action to prevent undesirable outcomes.

For example, you could listen for the number, duration, and frequency of brakes being applied hard at intersections as a predictor of accidents. That would allow you to redesign the intersection to improve safety; even if no accidents have occurred.

This is not a new idea, but as computer power increases you can do more sophisticated modeling and analysis. In some ways, you are trying to do with machines what humans do instinctively - look for patterns that signify something is about to occur.

Re:They're spending a lot of money on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36699008)

God you disgust me. You probably didn't read the article let alone think about how cool what they're doing is. You were too busy trying to look smart, but you didn't even come up with anything creative. Everyone who doesn't understand some form of research says that.

What next? Predictive arresting? (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698658)

"Sorry, sir, but we've determined that you're likely to commit a crime soon. Please come with us. Thank you for your cooperation."

Life insurance policy = murder? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698754)

Let's say there is a high correlation between wives who take out life insurance policies on their husbands, and murder, should the software instruct the police to arrest these women or just investigate them?

http://www.torontoestatemonitor.com/estate-litigation/man-who-killed-wife-is-denied-her-life-insurance/ [torontoestatemonitor.com]

Re:Life insurance policy = murder? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698876)

Can you take out a life insurance policy on a person without the person agreeing to it? How is this even legal. I can't see it being used for any legitimate pupose. I Would think that the only way for anybody to take out life insurance on me would be for me to authorize it and know about it. That way if things start to go wrong, the life insurance can be cancelled.

Re:Life insurance policy = murder? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698892)

Can you take out a life insurance policy on a person without the person agreeing to it? How is this even legal. I can't see it being used for any legitimate pupose. I Would think that the only way for anybody to take out life insurance on me would be for me to authorize it and know about it. That way if things start to go wrong, the life insurance can be cancelled.

Yes you can actually take out a life insurance policy without a person agreeing to it. Not in every state but in certain states.

Re:Life insurance policy = murder? (2)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699058)

Walmart does this for their employees...err I should say TO their employees all the time.
The fucked up part is in internal memos Walmart refers to this as Peasant Insurance.
So Walmart gets paid whenever one of their peasants...err Employees dies.
Personally I think this should be illegal.

Re:Life insurance policy = murder? (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699004)

Large corporations carry large life insurance policies on their employees all the time, they call it "dead peasants" insurance plans. Walmart got caught doing it a few years back, people that made $20k a year annually had life insurance policies on them by Walmart for $75,000, and that's for entry level employees. A husband found out when his 20-something year old wife died from asthma and the receipt for the life insurance policy payable to Walmart Inc got sent to her home address by mistake.

There was actually another company where emails or something were leaked where the head honcho was complaining to someone in his financial division that their entry level employees weren't dying enough and they weren't making enough money on the policies. That was pretty nice, I thought.

Re:Life insurance policy = murder? (1)

dala1 (1842368) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699072)

In Canada, you have to have a legitimate financial reason to take out life insurance on anyone, yourself included. For instance, if you make $20k per year and have no assets to speak of, then you would not be able to take out millions of dollars of life insurance on yourself. You also couldn't take out life insurance on that neighbor you don't like, or on me. The reason for this is that allowing it causes serious criminal activity. I suspect that the US system has similar restrictions, since I've never heard of anyone trying to collect insurance on some random guy they killed.

Re:What next? Predictive arresting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698780)

"Oh, turns out you don't possess the materials to commit the crime we determined you were likely to commit. The TSA apologizes for any inconvenience. Please enjoy your flight."

Re:What next? Predictive arresting? (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698790)

Yes, in the same way that grocery stores started doing predictive staffing, and then quickly moved on to predictive charging "Sorry, but our models show you were supposed to have bought more milk today, so we're going to go ahead and bill you for it". I like the way you didn't even read the summary, though. Good work maintaining the Slashdot tradition.

Stopping a crime is a great idea (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698670)

Arresting someone before a crime is committed is a bad idea. Arresting someone in the process of committing a crime is also okay. What they are talking about here, it seems, is predicting crime like predicting the weather and manning the areas most likely to have precipitation.

Alternatively, if you live in a bad neighborhood, just keep a bunch of donuts on-hand. They can smell it!

Re:Stopping a crime is a great idea (1)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699034)

They already do this in some cities, just based on local knowledge. It typically involves spending lots of money on private security firms to police the projects. I remember a company that I used to work for hired one of those firms as well. You knew it before you bothered to ask where the bullet holes in the cars came from.

Re:Stopping a crime is a great idea (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699040)

More or less, it's been known for many years that there are factors which tend to lead towards higher rates of crime. Things like the higher up you are in a highrise, the quality and quantity of lighting in an area and the location of obstructions to view.

The only issue I see with a system like this is cost and efficacy. If it works and is cost effective then there really is no problem with it. They aren't going to be issuing warrants and arresting people on the basis of being in the area where a crime is likely to hit, they'll use this to more effectively use resources that they've got.

One of the reasons why the sexual exploitation of minors is still so prevalent is low rates of reporting and easy access to children to molest.

Sweet! (1)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698678)

I've always wanted to know how to predict the future myself. So far, it's been a huge failure for me. I've bought all these crystal balls, hired some company rhyming with schmalantir... maybe they can find the right mix. After they do, imma get so rich in the stock market! Booyah!

Re:Sweet! (1)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698964)

I can predict the future pretty accurately. For example: I predict that next January it is likely to snow here. I predict that I am going to play soccer tonight and that 25 other players will show up to play with me. I predict that thousands of people will come together to create a new edition of the New York Times for me to read tomorrow morning. I predict that there will be a car accident this weekend and someone will die. Really most of my life is predictable in the near future. I don't know about you but I am not constantly walking around being surprised all the time.

"Racial Profiling" (0)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698680)

Sounds like the new term for "Racial Profiling"...

Re:"Racial Profiling" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698706)

"predictive policing" is profiling.
Let the lawsuits begin!

Re:"Racial Profiling" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698946)

Yep: "Our amazing computer model has predicted that crime is going to be up 20% in these minority neighborhoods, so we're going to get our officers out there and start smashing heads! Why, yes, it did take twelve different runs of the model before we got this result, but we think it's worth the several hundred million dollars to point to the computer print-out as the reason we like to beat up minorities. Beats calling it racism."

Re:"Racial Profiling" (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699094)

Not really, this is about deploying resources in a preemptive fashion. And you'd have officers making contact with people across the various demographic groupings. Just to remind everybody that if they need help there's a police presence and if they're thinking of committing a crime there's a police presence.

Racial profiling is when you focus your attention on one group without any particular basis other than race, in this case you'd be deploying resources based upon crime stats and predictive intelligence. Ideally you'd end up with fewer arrests and fewer contacts with suspects as fewer individuals would be attempting to violate the law.

Re:"Racial Profiling" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36699106)

Also known as "Pattern Recognition?"

Otherwise Known as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698688)

Profiling.... just not with people and in today's world god forbid a cop use that term. This is nothing new.

Re:Otherwise Known as (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698744)

How is this profiling? It's not like they are predicting who will commit a crime, they're only predicting where crime will be highest. That makes perfect sense, because you want to station your officers where they will do the most good.

Re:Otherwise Known as (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698916)

Prediction: crime will be highest in areas with the greatest gap between rich and poor.

If they want a computerized version, I will gladly write a .Net app that displays the same truism for only 50 million dollars.

Re:Otherwise Known as (5, Insightful)

surveyork (1505897) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699054)

Somebody mod parent up. One of the best ways to reduce crime is to reduce the inequalities between the very rich and the very poor. Look at the crime rates in countries where this gap is lower. Another way is education. So, if you want to fight crime, invest in police training, urban tanks, SWATs, fancy pre-cogn algorithms, etc. If you want to prevent crime, invest in raising the quality of life of the poor and in teachers.

Great... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698690)

I always knew that whole presumption of innocence thing was a waste of time.

Break out the Precogs! Everyone is suspect!

Re:Great... (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698824)

Break out the Precogs! Everyone is suspect!

Your idea is a bit late. Haven't flown recently, have you?

Re:Great... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698906)

Not since they started giving everyone the "white glove" treatment, no...but I admit, that's a personal choice because I value my freedom more than the convenience of setting it aside and getting on a plane. It just surprises me so many people are willing to do whatever they're told in the name of "safety".

What also surprises me is how much society at large just puts up with this crap. What the hell has to happen before people start taking to the streets, TV and internet service being interrupted? Starting to really seem like it...

Minority Report all over again... (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698692)

...except with Watson the supercomputer instead of Samantha Morton. Just remember that when he says "Toronto" it means he doesn't know the answer.

Toronto (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698950)

Just remember that when he says "Toronto" it means he doesn't know the answer.

Remember, "Toronto" is an Iroquois word meaning "the place where the mind narrows".
I've heard that "Ottawa" is one of its synonyms.

"The only way for us to continue to have crime..." (2)

exentropy (1822632) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698704)

"The only way for us to continue to have crime reduction is to start anticipating where crime is going to occur."

Maybe not having a poverty rate of over 16% [latimes.com] would be a way?

Re:"The only way for us to continue to have crime. (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698930)

SHHH! Don't let the cops hear that intellect, they'll think you're mocking them.

Not precrime (3, Insightful)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698708)

Policing the Dunkin' Donuts isn't going to prevent many crimes. Policing areas where crimes occur will prevent crimes, or at least force the criminals to expend energy going elsewhere. This is called "the police being smart and doing their jobs" and it's nothing like Minority Report.

Re:Not precrime (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698842)

Look, you clearly read the summary. That's quite frowned upon here! You are supposed to read the headling, see "predictive policing" and conclude that they are running people's profiles (bonus points if you assume the profiles are attained by warrantless wiretaps) through a computer and then arresting them because Ziggy says there's an 87.2% chance that they are going to rob the liquor store tomorrow. This is Slashdot, don't you know?

Re:Not precrime (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698956)

Dude, we're all way ahead of the curve. We're using "predictive commenting", where we can save all that reading time and just type random insults. With the millions of monkeys using /., surely one of them will happen upon a valid comment.

already done (1)

hammarlund (568027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698710)

This was the basis of the thought crimes in "1984". Of course, since Blago was convicted of pretty much the same thing...

FMRI can read intentions, give to law enforcement! (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698856)

The brain scans were one part of the study; the other part went on behind the scenes. The researchers had to decide which types of brain activity would indicate which intention in order to establish a computer algorithm that would read the fMRI results. The software incorporates a high degree of complexity. Brain patterns are not necessarily localized; sometimes, in order to fully grasp what's happening, you need to be able to interpret patterns from different parts of the brain simultaneously. Technological innovation plays a large part in what appears to be a successful attempt to read people's minds.

Using a combination of the brain scans and the computer software, researchers were able to "guess" whether the subject intended to add or subtract the upcoming numbers with 70 percent accuracy -- not a bad success rate for mind reading. Activity patterns in the middle of the prefrontal cortex were different depending on whether the subject intended to add or intended to subtract. The researchers essentially looked around the brain and decided, based on all of the activity they were seeing and especially the patterns of stimulation in the prefrontal cortex, whether the brain was preparing to add or subtract.

The study also proved some fascinating hypotheses set forth in other experiments that will no doubt lead to some very speedy progress in the area of mind reading via brain scan:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/perception/mind-reading1.htm [howstuffworks.com]

We are only a matter of time before Law Enforcement across the country has the computing power and equipment to not only do neurological surveillance but to actually enforce thought crimes. So let's say someone on Slashdot thinks about pedophilia, and the FMRI concludes they intend to harm a child, what should be done about this person?

Maybe it's time to make a law to punish them?

When too many people can't find work (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698712)

or are laid off, you can expect crime to rise. Duh!

That is why it's so important to have a strong economy. I don't think you need predictive software to figure out that people have to eat.
This is ultimately just a waste of money on the part of Law Enforcement and that money could better be spent actually creating a job or on actually improving investigation techniques and training. Police work solves crime, and most of the crime that has to be given the highest priority is violent crime.

How would this software predict a domestic violence incident, or a murder? Until it can predict violent crime it's useless.

Re:When too many people can't find work (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698804)

In a third world country, the primary purpose of the police force is to protect the property and power of the rich. They don't care if the serfs kill each other.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, the US is very busily converting itself into a 3rd world country.

Re:When too many people can't find work (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698928)

US crime rates have been dropping for nearly 10 years, and the recession, unemployment, etc. haven't caused an increase so far. Your theory doesn't match the data [disastercenter.com]

The software isn't supposed to predict specific crimes, but areas/times. e.g. it is probable that 10 houses in this neighborhood will be burgled this month during work hours.

Wag the Dog (0)

passionplay (607862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698736)

I find the most compelling book is omitting the most compelling story of all. Carnivore. All I hear is "the bad guys are doing it worse, we have to do it better to keep them out." And "there is no security, so we have to build it into the network " because if we build the security, we'll own the back door. The internet has security for when you want to use it. The internet has no security when you don't want it. The problem is that the government has gotten used to having all of our lives under scrutiny in the name of security. Privacy as we know is eroding over the amorphous war on terror. The war that was started by those now fighting when they used those exact tactics in Vietnam. The world is simply emulating the US albeit in an earlier stage of evolution. Instead of attempting to undermine their development, developing them as equal partners that didn't have to fear the US might be a goal worth exploring. But human beings are less altruistic than their primate cousins. I'm sure we'd still screw this up if we tried it. I think we'll just have to wait for the pendulum to swing back. Until then, Generation Y and Z are going to be stupid enough to think that the government can protect them when they won't do it for themselves.

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698748)

My hous gets robbed,,,,,,,i contact my insurance,,,,,,get all new stuff,,,,,,get robbed again :)

so,,,,,,,easy you see

not who - just where (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698762)

There are two uses for this, identifying where the next target of an uncaught multiple offender is likely to be, and identifying areas where high crime may become a problem in the future. The first is already applied to things like murder. For the second it is more about allocating resources to catch opportunists in places which are both attractive and vulnerable before they become a problem, not predicting who will commit.

srsly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698770)

So ... they've figured out they should patrol potential hot spots?

Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698788)

I have worked as a programmer in law enforcement, and we were doing this 15 years ago, based on some of the things that NYPD had implemented.

It's about time. (4, Insightful)

Comboman (895500) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698798)

The police seem to have no problem analyzing data to figure out the best places and times for speed traps. It's about time they used the same principles to stop real crimes.

Re:It's about time. (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699012)

Try driving through the north half of Texas some time. They really got it down. Sometimes it looks like they planted a bunch of bushes specifically so they could park cars behind them while obfuscating the speed limit signs. The tickets are about 180 bucks for 1-9 miles over the limit.

"The only way" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698806)

Well, no, we could lessen the scope of the criminal code.

On its face, a good idea (1)

danaris (525051) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698846)

Predicting where crime will happen, and putting more uniforms there to stop it or catch the guys in the act? That's good. That's very good—I'd call it police work at its best. As long as it's at least a little better than random.

Predicting who is going to commit a crime and arresting them before they do it, now that would be bad. But it doesn't sound like that's what they're intending.

I think it's important to support innovations in law enforcement that actually help, especially when there are so many that do the opposite lately. Just because you're afraid of what they might decide to do next doesn't mean it's wise to trash this idea.

Dan Aris

Sure thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698888)

Just an advanced profiling technique.

And according to the NoBama administration, profiling bad... Higher taxes good!!

Somewhat misleading title (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36698904)

As a graduate of a program that taught geographic information systems, I wish the article title weren't sensationalized to imply some Minority Report-esque pre-crime system was being used. This is just the use of mapping and geostatistics to determine at-risk areas (hotspot analysis, as mentioned in TFA), with which police resources can be deployed more efficiently. I've heard stories of this kind of predictive analytics being applied to catch a burglar who would invade homes far from his own neighbourhood, by analyzing the locations broken into and creating a probabilistic area to patrol based on that information. Put down the pitchforks and torches, 'cause the cops aren't coming for your thoughts.

It won't work very well. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698926)

All this will do is change the behavior of criminals. They'll see where police are starting to crack down & start changing their tactics. You might get a net reduction of crime of 1% or so. I'll leave whether or not that is worth the cost (both monetary & freedom) to the rest of you to debate.

Just a fancy name for profiling (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698944)

"We've discovered a statistical correlation between skin color and likelihood to commit crime!"

FTP!

Why the hate? (1)

Joe85 (1627241) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698958)

Did anyone actually RTFA? Or even the summary? You sound like you all read 'predictive policing' and jumped straight to Minority Report.

"it is possible to forecast patterns of where and when homes are likely to be burgled or cars stolen by analyzing truckloads of past crime reports and other data with sophisticated computer algorithms."

They're talking about using statistics on crime history to figure out where future crimes may happen. Also,

"That information can give police an edge in figuring out where to deploy extra cars and cops to catch bad guys, or, better yet, keep them from opening that unlocked window in the first place. The process is not meant to finger specific individuals. “We focus on the likelihood of a crime being committed, not on who would commit it,” says Martin Short, a young mathematics professor who works with Brantingham."

We aren't talking about arresting people for crimes they haven't yet committed. deploying extra cars to high crime areas sounds like something police departments are, or should be, already doing.

Sounds like "premature investigation" (1)

Bryan3000000 (1356999) | more than 2 years ago | (#36698998)

It's a widespread problem for inexperienced officers which can lead to an unsatisfying martial relationship.

Re:Sounds like "premature investigation" (1)

lolococo (574827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699052)

Did you mean "marital" relationships? That would make more sense to me :)

Re:Sounds like "premature investigation" (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699104)

I can see how prematurely investigating your martial partner might end up in trouble. War even.

Lawful Good? No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36699014)

Police officer's are supposed to react to any acts of evil or crime in our cities. To act preemptively is unlawful. I support awesome and proactive law enforcement, but not a bunch of suspicious money hunters trying to scam the cities citizens with ridiculous accusations just to make their ticket quotas.

Behind the times (1)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699022)

So the cops are finally catching on to that whole "forecasting" thing that every single call centre has used since forever. Because it's far more important to know how many people are going to complain on any given day than to know how many people are going to have their lives ruined by crime.

My CJ teacher (4, Interesting)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699024)

My Criminal Justice teacher always taught this. The example that I remember from him was unmarked patrol cars.

When he was a captain in the local Sherrif Department he fought against using unmarked cars for patrol. His reasoning was that a visible patrol car detered criminal and traffic violations wherever it went. It also let the general public know that the police were in the area and there for you. And in case of an emergency a member of the public could quickly recognize a police vehicle to flag it down.

The only upside of the unmarked cars was that you could collect more ticket revenue easily. But ticket revenue was not the purpose of the department, so why should they give up ground in crime prevention for marginal gains in catching offenders unawares.

It boils down to the question, is it better to prevent a crime or catch the criminal after the fact?

probably not as neat as you think.. (1)

whois (27479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699038)

Had some interesting points to make but they're halfway not relevant so I removed them. Leaving these because they're just about relevant.

The government at all levels can and does misuse this kind of data. They think giving "illegal" drugs to cancer patients is something worth prosecuting for. They're more interested in speed traps than stolen cars because one requires doing work and the other makes money.

You know what doesn't require sophisticated algorithms to reduce crime? Increasing patrols in neighborhoods and business areas that are frequent targets. I know you can't write press releases about it because it's nothing new, but burglars tend to move on if a patrol car passes a place every 5 minutes.

Arguably that's exactly what they're looking to do. Increase patrols in areas that computers flag as being high targets, but that is also reactive rather than proactive, meaning someone has to suffer crime until it reaches some threshold where they give a damn. There's nothing more predictive here than a monitoring system that turns red when it sees a percentage.

suggested algorythim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36699050)

Maybe they could start by trying to predict where the cops will show up 3 hours later.

only way? (1)

orange47 (1519059) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699060)

perhaps they are stealing because they have no jobs, no money to buy food or similar.
there must be better ways to fight crime.

RTFA (1)

linear a (584575) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699078)

Article says this is to work on areas likely to have crimes and specifically says that it isn't to predict individuals or individual crimes.

Question is, is this a cause or effect solution? (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699090)

Police will never be able to predict all crime, of course, but Brantingham believes they can make a significant dent. âoeWe think you can predict and deter about 15 percent of burglaries,â he says.

I've seen quite a few posts jump to the Minority Report conclusion. Question is, is that really the best way to deter crime?

How about a simpler solution? If the cops find out that mugging typically happens on dark streets between the bar and the nearest parking garage, why not encourage local businesses, residents, and city personnel to get the place better lit?

You can easily be proactive, but being proactive about catching criminals is really stupid. Instead, be proactive about improving society - if burglaries happen in the run-down section of town, invest in improvements. Hell, if you hire local you'll likely be hiring the guy who may have been about to burgle you. Sure, that sounds fatalistic in one front, but if you pay them $100 to do something, it beats them stealing $100 from you instead.

Will it work? (1)

charlieman (972526) | more than 2 years ago | (#36699096)

Criminals could just commit crimes in places they usually don't. Or choose at random. Actually, if the police starts putting more officers in the crime ridden part of town, that means the other parts will be easier targets.

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