Thursday, 25 August 2011

Santa Cruz Experiments with Predictive Policing

An experiment in law-enforcement in Santa Cruz, California is being watched closely not just by San Diego criminal defense lawyers, but also law-enforcement agencies across the country. The Santa Cruz Police Department is currently undertaking a “predictive policing” experiment, using a computer system that predicts crimes in certain areas before they occur, thereby leading police officers to the spot.

Such computerized predictive systems are in use in many cities across the country. However, those systems are older and calibrated less frequently. The system currently being used in Santa Cruz is calibrated on a daily basis which offers police officers fresh information about new crimes. The system generates predictions for which areas and times have the highest risk for crimes based on an analysis of past crimes.

Besides, predictive systems in other parts of the country rely more on human behavior than analysis. Additionally, most other systems that are currently used are based on past crime rates, and not any future projections.

According to the Santa Cruz Police Department, this is an innovative enforcement measure that has become necessary during a time of budget cuts. Around California, law enforcement agencies have been straining under increasingly limited resources. At the Santa Cruz Police Department, the numbers of personnel have declined by 20%, while the number of calls for service have increased by as much as 30%. In a situation like this, there was a need for a system that would ensure a more equitable distribution of the available resources.

The program in Santa Cruz began in July, and will be evaluated after a period of six months. According to police officers, there has already been a decline in the number of burglaries in July compared to the same month last year, suggesting that predictive policing has had some affect. However, it's too early to tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment