The Los Angeles Police Department has become known for preventing crimes before they occur through controversial tactics, understandably taking advantage of technology and avoiding risk of potential incidents. There is no legitimate reason to neglect a resource that is capable of stopping people from breaking the law and causing harm to others.
The program operated by the LAPD, which is called PredPol, comes at a time when the department has experienced a 20 percent decrease in staff and a 30 percent rise in crime throughout the Los Angeles area.
“We had to try something because we were not being offered more cops,” said Zach Friend, a crime analyst for the Santa Cruz Police Department which also uses the program, in an interview with CNN.
PredPol and other means of predicting criminal activity have been proven to successfully impact the cities where they’ve been integrated. In Santa Cruz, police saw a 38 percent decline in robberies after implementing the program. Those who oppose such a system seem to devalue the safety of their environment and the security of those around them.
The program itself determines a forecast based on past crime scenes and the times they were committed. However, it is not meant to single out people who might commit a felony. This is the difference between the intention of PredPol and the response of law enforcers assigned to use it.
Although it is inevitable that some officers might inflict their concerns of possible law-breaking onto former convicts, the safety of others is worth such a minor cost. A police officer giving a forewarning to a future suspect based on location and current relations does not seem as over-protective or invasive as critics have claimed.
“Minority Report is about predicting who will commit a crime before they commit it. This is about predicting where and when crime is most likely to occur, not who will commit it,” said P. Jeffrey Brantingham, professor of anthropology at UCLA who contributed to the development of PredPol.
A similar program called “HunchLab” is being tested by the NYPD, and if it proves beneficial, it will become a mandatory part of the department’s agenda.
“We’re not using data on who’s been released from prison, or how many people of color live in this location. We don’t feed any of that kind of data into the system,” said Robert Cheetham, the C.E.O. of Azavea which owns the program.
Authorities are aware that citizens might be concerned that there is a system monitoring their city and have responded by ensuring predictive policing will not interrupt the lives of locals or infringe upon their rights.
Reports indicate that PredPol and HunchLab have solved issues of deployment prior using predictive technology which has shortened response times.
While still not entirely idealized, predictive policing is hopeful to evolve into a less disputed means of enforcing the law and preventing crime.
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