Investigating Domestic Abuse, Suicide Causes Officer Stress

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Data can show that a police officer who has been under stress after responding to cases of domestic abuse or suicide may be at higher risk of a negative interaction with the public, data scientist Rayid Ghani tells NPR. Ghani, the chief data scientist for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, is director of the Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Ghani says police department data can help predict which officers are at the risk of “adverse incidents. ” Instead of waiting for something bad to happen, when the only intervention is punitive, the question is, “Can I detect these things early?” and then direct intervention to them like training and counseling,” he says. For example, if an officer has been handling many domestic abuse cases or suicide cases, “that is a big predictor of you being involved in an adverse incident in the near future,” Ghani says.

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