8 months ago

future trends in policing 2014


4 FUTURE TRENDS IN POLICING tool and algorithm began in 2007 when LAPD formed a partnership with the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM), a research institute housed at UCLA and funded by the National Science Foundation. 8 The relationship started informally, with LAPD Captain Sean Malinowski attending weekly meetings of the “Mathematical and Simulation Modeling of Crime” project. During the meetings, doctoral students would present their latest crime research, and Malinowski began to see opportunities for the LAPD to use the type of analysis UCLA was using. He said, “I saw the potential of what they were doing. The LAPD didn’t have the capacity for the type of analysis they were doing. They [the UCLA people] are smart people, they want to help, and they want to see how their work can have an impact in the real world. We can help them with that.” The partnership faced several barriers as it began. According to Dr. Andrea Bertozzi, Director of Applied Mathematics at UCLA, developing the predictive models required access to a large volume of detailed, accurate police data. But before the LAPD could provide the data, it had to expend significant effort to scrub the data of personal information so that it could be used in a university setting. Bertozzi also explained it was critical to set expectations for the police department and the university early on in their partnership. “We had to establish in the beginning that we were trying to develop models that might take years to produce results that could be used in the field. Indeed, we started this project five years before anything was used in the field,” Bertozzi said. Malinowski agreed, saying, “We talked a lot about how to turn the research into a tool for the field. There was a lot of trial and error.” Malinowski also said there was a give and take to ensure that both sides would get what they needed from the partnership. “We tried to design things so our partners could meet their research goals, so they could get a scientific benefit out of it. That involves some sacrifice on our end,” he said. “But it was also important for them to recognize that we are working in an environment with real-world consequences, so we need real-world solutions.” LAPD’s predictive policing development team considered using various commercially available products before eventually deciding to use an algorithm developed at UCLA. (An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end, especially by a computer.) LAPD’s algorithm processes updates crime data in “near-real time” and produces crime forecasts twice each day. The algorithm draws on seven years of crime data to produce forecasts for burglary, burglary from a motor vehicle, and vehicle thefts. These crimes best 8.

Introduction 5 fit the theoretical models that the algorithm is based on. The program is used for property crimes because “criminologists have found that property crime is a predictable act that can be deterred simply by having a police presence in the area, but violent crime is harder to predict and deter.” 9 COMPUTERS WILL NOT MAKE HUMAN Currently, LAPD’s predictive policing ANALYSIS OBSOLETE program is being applied to a 50-squaremile area. The program breaks up the especially analysts, who thought the software would LAPD had to answer questions from employees, larger area into a grid composed of 500- make their job unnecessary. foot squares, or “boxes.” Each forecast Captain Malinowski says, “I told them, if I can automate assigns a crime probability score to targeting and tasking for patrol, I can have you do each box. Patrol officers are informed deeper analysis about problem locations. I have a of the highest probability boxes and are million things for analysts to do.” directed to use any available time to focus on those boxes. “Our mantra is in their available time, officers should ‘get in the box,’” Malinowski said. The department encourages officers to proactively use their knowledge, skills, and experience to identify reasons why the box has a high crime risk and then actively work to address those issues. For law enforcement leaders who are interested in implementing predictive policing, LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon outlines several suggestions. “It will work as long as the officers understand that it’s not about just going into the box,” he said. “We have to be more sophisticated than that. It’s about having a mission once you get into the box, and developing strategies to achieve the mission.” Gannon also stresses it is important to obtain officers’ buyin for the program. “If we send the cops out on a mission without talking to them and getting their input, we’re not going to be successful,” he said. “The process leading into the implementation is very important. There has to be a tremendous amount of work done to ensure everyone understands what it’s all about.” “I believe predictive policing is an important tool that can aid police departments in the deployment of limited resources. I hope it will become part of standard technology used by law enforcement agencies.” Brantingham points out that predictive analytics will not replace officer skills. The software is capable of highlighting where and when crime is likely to take place, but officers must then determine how to disrupt the criminal opportunity. —Dr. Andrea Bertozzi UCLA Mathematician 9. Dana Mackenzie, “Predictive Policing,” Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (March 16, 2012),

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