DOJ to Consider "Predictive Police" Tactics

How scary is this? I got this notice from the Department of Justice today.

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Assistance are hosting a symposium November 18-20, 2009, to explore the potential for implementing predictive policing strategies to help make communities safer. Predictive policing integrates data analysis with law enforcement strategies and tactics. To find out how best to apply predictive policing approaches, the DOJ is supporting a number of police departments nationwide in demonstrations, or field experiments, designed to test the effectiveness of various predictive policing strategies and techniques.


A list of those projects is available here (pdf.)

Former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton will be a keynote speaker. Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, will be in attendance and introduce Mr. Bratton.

The Government has awarded $1,150,845.00 for these programs. The symposium will be held in L.A.

Here's more:

Predictive policing "includes strategies and tactics that improve the situational awareness of law enforcement concerning individuals or locations before criminal activity occurs."

...These methods may include contemporary approaches to dynamic systems modeling and forecasting such as algorithmic methods, machine or statistical learning, or ensemble methods.

...For example, demographic trends, parolee populations, and economic factors may all affect crime rates in local areas.

...Alternatively, fusion centers or police investigative units may use predictive tools to provide leads or guide specific investigations.

< Reid Discusses Reconciliation . . . With Ben Nelson, Landrieu and Lincoln | Wednesday Night Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Philip K. Dick (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Peter G on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 08:33:14 PM EST
    "The Minority Report" (short story, 1956; movie, 2002)

    80s Sparks song "I Predict"... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by mcl on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 04:59:32 AM EST
    Does this go both ways, I wonder?  How about civilians applying predictive tactics to the police?

    ...I predict that police are increasingly going berserk, tasing and beating and arresting innocent people without any justification.  Should civilians apply this predictive tactic by pre-emptively tasing police officers into unconsciousness whenever the police approach on the street?

    ...I predict that police increasingly abuse their powers, lie in court, and falsify or destroy evidence after false arrest of people who have not committed a crime.  Should citizens apply this predictive tactic in advance by barricading courthouses and shutting them down to prevent the inevitable miscarriages of justice?

    ...I predict that prosecutors found guilty of prosecutorial misconduct will suffer no sanctions or other penalties for their misbehavior. Should I as a law-abiding citizen apply this predictive tactic by voting NOT GUILTY regardless of the evidence in every jury in which I find myself empaneled?

       "Predictive tactics" don't seem too delightful when civilians use them instead of police, do they?

    I like how you think.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 09:45:51 AM EST
    mcl...but thinking like that will get you caged, tased, or shot right quick...you do live in the same country I do right?...:)

    Not very (none / 0) (#3)
    by souvarine on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 06:58:51 AM EST
    No more scary than your local grocer stocking up on turkeys this week, predicting that you are likely to buy one.

    People, even criminals, have patterns. If police can use data to predict those patterns and be on the scene to prevent a crime, then more power to them.

    Predicitve analytics are ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 09:12:23 AM EST
    already used extensively in fraud detection by credit card companies. In fact, that has helped stop fraud on my credit card. (Citibank calls us to verify some charges which we didn't make).

    It is also extensively used by big retailers for efficient stocking of their inventory.

    There is no reason why police should use it to allocate their resources more efficiently.


    ack "why police should NOT use it ...." (none / 0) (#5)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 09:13:03 AM EST
    typo sorry

    Last I checked... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 09:48:21 AM EST
    the grocer doesn't have arrest powers.

    From my view, the more proactive the authorities get the less liveable the place becomes...it is and should be a reactive business.


    No ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by nyrias on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 08:57:55 AM EST
    that is inefficient use of our tax dollars. They are not talking about racial profiling here, remember.

    This is like having more police officer patrolling a neighborhood with more crime.

    You are confusing arresting someone based on predictions, and allocating police resources based on predictions.

    They are not arresting anyone until they did something but it helps if they are closer to the high frequency crime areas.


    I like it (none / 0) (#8)
    by Yando on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 11:27:00 AM EST

     I like it, Predictive  Police Powers.
    No doubt it will  keep  communties  safe.
    Especially the  children.
    I  propose  we  call specially  appointed  agents Kafka Kops and  have it  so  they  can imprison anyone  who  looks "suspicious."
    And those  pesky trials,  I   think we should do  away  with those  too.

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling! (none / 0) (#9)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 11:45:50 AM EST

    Predictive?! (none / 0) (#10)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 02:43:50 PM EST
    I'm sick of predictive elements in our lives. Insurance companies have decided that people with low credit scores are more likely to have auto accidents and they make them pay higher premiums (imagine all the unemployed people who are about to see their premiums jump).

    It seems that if they are going to take on this daunting task of guessing future crime, they should be held accountable to the communities when they predict wrong.

    Dunno. (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Nov 19, 2009 at 05:49:50 PM EST
    I used to have terrible credit scores due to my own idiocy and some bad luck, and now, after a decade or so of hard friggin' work, my credit scores are great.

    If that means I've earned the right to lower insurance premiums because I'm in a group that is proven to be a better risk, and that I'm not forced to subsidize others who have been proven to be more risky drivers (like I was 15 years ago) I generally think that's a good thing.


    Well, that is only bad ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by nyrias on Fri Nov 20, 2009 at 09:02:03 AM EST
    if you have low credit scores. It benefits those who have high credit scores.

    And today's business civilization is all run on predictions. You can predict demand (to some degree), you cannot plan for productions.

    Why do you think you can buy a quart of milk cheap at the local super market? It is all about supply chain efficient operations and prediction is a large part of it.

    And it is not as daunting as you might think. They are NOT trying to predict individual crimes, but only the concentration of it. It does not take a genius to see that is possible at a zip code level, and they are probably going to do a more sophisticated job.

    And of course they will be accountable, statistically. Every algorithm worthwhile to use will incorporate feedback and check its accuracies. There are plenty of statistical techniques to do that.