The Future Is Here with “Predictive Policing”
When you think of police responding to a crime, you think of just that: police responding. In a typical scenario, a crime is committed, the police department or 911 is called, and officers are sent to the scene. But what if police officers could start “responding” to crimes before they occurred?
Predictive policing offers just that. It’s a high-tech approach to law enforcement that uses data to forecast possible criminal activity. While the term “predictive policing” may make you think of movies like Minority Report, it works a bit differently in the real world.
Experts say that it is a bit like predicting the weather. When officers report to their shift, they gather to look at crime maps. They look to see where crimes have occurred based on recorded data and when those crimes happened. The officers look for patterns and then use the information gathered to patrol certain areas, looking for certain criminal activity.
History of Predictive Policing
The idea of predictive policing is not new. Forecasting criminal activity is something that dates back almost 30 years, to the early 90s. It was then that the U.S. Department of Justice began to research and develop statistical models regarding where crime may occur. The lack of computing power at that time meant that maps were crude, but it was the beginning of crime mapping as we know it today.
PredPol, a predictive policing software, was launched using this same type of data collection. It is now used by more than 60 law enforcement agencies across the country. Its creators found that criminal activity could be mathematically predicted in much the same way earthquakes can be predicted. Geophysics can be used to forecast the predictability of criminal activity in a certain area. That information can then be used by law enforcement to determine how to best utilize their officers.
Issues with Predictive Policing
Ethical questions have been raised with regards to predictive policing. Statistical data is not always “fair.” A person who grew up committing petty crimes, for example, may be targeted by law enforcement despite having turned their life around, simply because of a mathematical formula.
Another problem is the sustained effectiveness. In one Los Angeles neighborhood, predictive policing led to a decline in property crimes, only to see the type of crime slowly begin to rise once again. Though there is much debate surrounding the practice, predictive policing is thought to be promising. Concerns, according to some, are to be studied and overcome. No issue is insurmountable according to some.
For now, most cities still rely on their human police force to respond to crimes. When you are charged with a crime in DeKalb County, you are facing life-altering consequences. Whether you are facing a fine or prison time, your situation must be taken seriously. Our team of criminal defense attorneys understands local and state law, and we have been a fixture in the city’s criminal justice community for years. Trust us to fight for your rights and help you protect your reputation and your freedom. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a case evaluation.