Atlantic City Tries ‘Risk-Terrain Modeling’ Against Crime

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Photo by DIVINGLEO via Flickr

Atlantic City is using a technique called risk-terrain modeling (RTM) to help reduce crime, reports. With help from Rutgers University criminologists, the city calls RTM a type of predictive policing aims to help police identify places that attract crime, and intervene to make them less attractive to criminals.

Police Chief Henry White Jr. is optimistic.

“The first six months of this year, our violent crime is down about 20 percent compared to the same time last year. But at the same time our arrests are also down 17 percent,” he said.

“We were able to reduce crime without contributing to mass incarceration.”

This has happened while the police force has been cut to 267 officers from 374 in 2010.

Predictive policing has become a buzzword, as a growing number of startups have marketed competing software options. A coalition of 16 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center for Justice, have warned that such tools exacerbate racial biases, ignore community needs and contribute to the over-policing of poor minority neighborhoods.

See also:  Predictive Policing: The Holy Grail of Algorithm Sorcery?

At Rutgers, Prof. Joel Caplan developed RTM with Prof. Leslie Kennedy. What’s radical about RTM is that in many ways, it’s not about policing as we normally think of it. Police still have to investigate crimes and make arrests, but the focus of RTM is creating conditions that deter crime from occurring.

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