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.