California City Claims Success With “Predictive Policing”


The Santa Cruz, Ca., Police Department is experimenting in predictive policing — deploying officers in places where crimes are likely to occur in the future,says the New York Times. Last month, the city began testing the prediction method for property crimes like car and home burglaries and car thefts. Zach Friend, the police department's crime analyst, said the program has helped officers pre-empt several crimes and has led to five arrests.

The notion of predictive policing is attracting increasing attention from law enforcement agencies as departments struggle to fight crime at a time when budgets are being slashed. “We're facing a situation where we have 30 percent more calls for service but 20 percent less staff than in the year 2000, and that is going to continue to be our reality,” Friend said. “So we have to deploy our resources in a more effective way, and we thought this model would help.” The Chicago Police Department created a predictive analytics unit last year. Santa Cruz's method, based on models for predicting aftershocks from earthquakes, generates projections for which areas and windows of time are at highest risk for future crimes by analyzing and detecting patterns in years of past crime data. The projections are recalibrated daily as new crimes occur.

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