“Predictive Policing”: Chiefs Discuss How It Can Help Prevent Crime


The Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice has issued a summary of a conference it held last month on “predictive policing,” which the agency’s John Morgan describes as “any policing strategy or tactic that develops and uses information and advanced analysis to inform forward-thinking crime prevention.” NIJ says predictive policing “is intended as a framework to advance strategies like community policing, problem-oriented policing, intelligence-led policing and hot spots policing.”

Arlington, Tx., police chief Theron Bowman provided a working example of the concept: his department uses data on residential burglaries to identify hot spots, and then compares these locations to places with code violations in the city. The data help monitor the relationship between things like neighborhood physical deterioration and crime. Given the social disorganization traditionally associated with a large amount of code violations, Arlington has developed a formula to help identify characteristics of a “fragile neighborhood.” As a result, the police department and other city agencies now apply resources more efficiently to these neighborhoods, ultimately preventing crime.

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