According to the Bellingham Herald, the Bellingham Police Department plans to buy “Predictive Policing Software” that will map crime patterns in the city and help officers decide where to patrol.
For those who don’t know, “Predictive Policing Software” is computer technology which uses advanced mathematics and algorithms to predict the times, locations and “types” of many crimes in any given jurisdiction. Police agencies can use this software to predict property crimes, drug incidents, gang activity, and gun violence, as well as traffic accidents.
The software, by Bair Analytics, will help compile reports currently put together by the department’s current crime analyst, who plans to retire soon.
According to the Bellingham Herald, officers currently use similarly compiled crime information to help detect criminal patterns and choose where they should focus their efforts. For example, if a series of home break-ins has been reported in a specific neighborhood, and officers see that similar methods were used to get into the homes, they start looking at what days and times those crimes happened to try to prevent another or catch the criminal in the act.
“A few years back we had a long series of rooftop burglaries and it took a while to catch the guys that were doing it,” Vander Yacht said. “We had to figure out the best times and places for them to do that.”
The software also allows interested citizens to sign up for alerts and view an interactive map of criminal activity in their area. The information included on the map is somewhat limited to protect the privacy of victims.
The map, which can be found at raidsonline.com, currently shows information for 15 Washington cities, including Seattle, Richland and Pasco. RAIDS stands for Regional Analysis and Information Data Sharing.
My opinion? Interesting technology. I don’t see if it violates people’s Constitutional Rights or infringes on their privacy. There shouldn’t be any problem with the implementation of this technology as long as the information does not target a particular individual.
Still, one gets a sense that Big Brother is getting better at watching us . . .