Atlanta police chief highlights innovative use of PredPol’s predictive policing
by George Turner, Police Chief, Atlanta, Georgia, Police Department; Dr. Jeff Brantingham, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles; and Dr. George Mohler, Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University, California
In the June issue of Police Chief Magazine, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner co-authored an article about his department’s innovative use of PredPol – and how predictive policing has reduced crime in Atlanta.
Policing crime patterns is hard business. Atlanta, Georgia, is no different than any other jurisdiction in this regard. Every day sees new crimes added to the database; and every day, the Atlanta police seek to use these data to not only respond to victims, but also to try to get out ahead of emerging hotspots and prevent crime in the first place. Until recently, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) followed a system for daily mission planning that combined hotspot mapping with the selective use of street-level intelligence. Beginning in July of 2013 for 90 days, the APD added predictive policing to the mix in two policing zones, targeting burglary, car theft, and robbery. Aggregate crime declined by 8 percent and 9 percent in the two zones compared to the prior 90-day period, with burglary and car thefts falling 10 to 28 percent. Aggregate crimes in the zones that did not deploy predictive policing increased from 1 to 8 percent. On the basis of these results, the APD decided to deploy predictive policing, as developed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and provided by PredPol, across the city. The decision, though, was based on more than observed declines in crime; it was based also on a review of the science behind predictive policing and, equally important, the seamless way in which predictive policing fits within the department’s day-to-day operations.
The Science behind Predictive Policing
If one can accurately predict where and when crime will occur today, then law enforcement personnel can disrupt those crimes before they happen. But predicting where and when crime will occur is no simple task.
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