Santa Cruz Tech Beat


In a U.S. first, Santa Cruz set to ban predictive policing technology

by Avi Asher-Schapiro
Thomson Reuters Foundation

June 18, 2020 — Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz Mayor Cummings says locally-based PredPol’s predictive technology can support racist patterns of policing and is unnecessary

Used by police forces across the United States for almost a decade, PredPol Inc – short for predictive policing – relies on an algorithm to analyze police records and identify crime-ridden areas to determine when and where officers patrol.

But critics says it reinforces racist patterns of policing – low-income, ethnic minority neighbourhoods have historically been overpoliced so the data shows them as crime hotspots, leading to the deployment of more police to those areas.

“We have technology that could target people of colour in our community – it’s technology that we don’t need,” Justin Cummings, the seaside city’s first African-American mayor, who proposed the ban last year, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“This is something that targets people who are like me,” said Cummings, who made headlines this month for kneeling beside Santa Cruz police chief Andy Mills to protest the death of George Floyd in police custody, which sparked global outrage.

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