Algorithmic crime-fighting, based on predictive technology makes makes me nervous. Let me just say that upfront.
The Phoenix Police Department probably predicted I would write that…
It appears that Phoenix Police Department uses predictive analytics, as at least a tool to aid them in policing the sixth most populous city in the United States. My Open Records request with the Phoenix Police Department is pending, without a timetable for completion. While we wait, I think it is appropriate to look at what we do know about predictive policing.
There is not a whole lot of academic information on predictive policing, in part because predictive analytics is such a young field in and of itself.
Probably the best definition I could find of this mysterious topic came from the RAND Corporation, a non-profit global policy think tank.
Predictive policing is the application of analytical techniques—particularly quantitative techniques—to identify likely targets for police intervention and prevent crime or solve past crimes by making statistical predictions.
— Predictive Policing, RAND Corporation, at *5.
Through an analysis of existing academic papers, vendor literature, and police use of predictive analytics the RAND Corporation came up with four types of predictive policing.
- Predicting crimes – forecasts places and times with an increased risk of crime
- Predicting offenders – potential for an individual to re-offend in the future
- Predicting perpetrators identities – profiling likely offenders
- Predicting victims of crimes – identify groups or, in some cases, individuals who are likely to become victims of crime.
— Predictive Policing, at *6.
Continue reading Predictive Policing in Phoenix
Phoenix police handled a very difficult situation where a man who suffers from schizophrenia wanted to harm others. According to the ABC 15 News reporting.
At one point, the man had a knife and lunged at an officer. It is reported the police officer drew his gun and thought about using it to protect himself, he ultimately did not use it. The situation was diffused and the man was taken in for a psychiatric evaluation.
The result was not the same in mid-August where a woman wielding a hammer was killed during a mental health call when a Phoenix police officer shot her.
Looking through the index of the Phoenix Police Department Operation Orders it appears the section Mental Health Orders Tactical Response 9.7.3.F governs how mental health calls are dealt with.
I cannot analyze or share with the readers Section 9.7.3.F because it is restricted in the copy Operation Orders I have. As this topic is in the news a few times recently, I will file an public records request and see if I can get access to this particular provision and shed some light on how Phoenix Police are expected to dealt with mental health calls.
It is important to note, once again, the Phoenix Police estimate they serve ten mental health calls a day. It appears the vast majority of these are handled successfully without incident, such as the present case. The police are put in a very complex and potentially very dangerous situation when dealing with mental health calls.
One residual thought I have from both incidents is why are guns only mentioned as weapons the police used or considered? It is curious that non-lethal options are not mentioned. It is not clear from the news articles if non-lethal means were available or used. The Operation Orders should be able to provide a clearer picture about this. And I hope it is a question that can be answered.