Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Five Common Myths About PredPol

(Source: PredPol blog)

March 6, 2019 — Santa Cruz, CA

Myth #1 – PredPol is Profiling

PredPol only collects the following data from an agency’s records management system (RMS) to produce predictions. This information is collected directly from the victim of the crime itself. The only items of information we collect are:

  • Incident type (residential burglary, robbery, assault, etc.)
  • Incident location (address or latitude/longitude)
  • Incident date and time (or a time range if the exact time is not known)
  • Case ID, docket number or other unique identifier.

Notice that we’re not collecting anything else about the victim and nothing at all about an alleged perpetrator. We DO NOT use demographic, economic, or any kind of potential “profiling” information about the location or neighborhood where the incident took place. The what-where-when information from the RMS is all our model needs and nothing more.

Myth #2 – Predictions Guarantee a Crime or Arrest

Despite our name, PredPol doesn’t actually “predict” crimes. What we do is process large datasets of victimization information to find the highest-risk locations for specified crimes types for each day and shift. When officers are on patrol, their presence is likely to have the greatest deterrent effect in these PredPol-designated areas. Deterrence is the ultimate goal – that means no crime, no victim, and nobody to arrest.

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