Big Data on the Beat: Predictive Policing has Arrived
"'Predictive policing used to be the future,' said career cop William
Bratton, 'and now it is the present.' In mid-May 2015, Bratton—the
visionary former chief of police in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles,
and currently again top cop in New York—was talking about his early days
as an officer in Boston, about what worked and what didn’t, and about
what can work better in the future. That future will involve predictive
policing, which Bratton is bringing to New York (a pilot program was
launched last summer).
Predictive policing, which Bratton helped develop when he headed the Los
Angeles Police Department during the 2000s, seeks not just to fight
crime but to anticipate and prevent it. It uses cutting-edge technology
and Big Data—some of which comes from past analysis and some of which is
new, streaming in real time to an onboard computer in a patrol car—to
identify high-risk areas, which precincts can then flood with police.
The aim is not to make arrests but to deter crime before it occurs.
Predictive policing relies crucially on community engagement—it can work
only when the police are seen as part of the neighborhood, rather than
as an occupying presence. At a time when police-community relations are
frayed and many cities face rising violent-crime rates as well as
renewed concern about terrorist threats, the approach may provide a
better way forward."
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