Chicago Police Uses Predictive Algorithms To Reduce Crime Rate


Image: Chicago Tonight
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In the past few years, the US has seen a scary climb in the violent crime rate in many cities. An estimated 1,1197,704 violent crimes occurred throughout the US in 2015. Law enforcement agencies are having trouble with the ever-increasing crime rate. Some are using predictive policing software to improve the conditions, but this software was never put to a harsh test ever.

The police of the third largest US city scans digital maps, and uses algorithms to find out the expected location of the next crime. The 7th district city police reported that the predictive algorithms have helped to bring down the number of shootings by 39 percent and the murders have dropped by 33 percent in the first seven months of 2017. In three other districts which use the fully functional algorithms, the results were not as pronounced. A reduction of 15 to 29 percent in shootings and 9 to 18 percent in murders was observed in other places.

The 7th district commander Kenneth Johnson commented,

“The community is starting to see real change in regards to violence.”

The 7th District’s control room is one of the six centers that have been opened since January under the $6 million project. The software is meant to follow the traditional operating methods of police. The chief of the Police Department’s Bureau of Technical Services, Jonathan Lewin said,

“We are not saying we can predict where the next shooting is going to occur. These are just tools. They are not going to replace (officers).”

While the technology has managed to yield significant results, some critics say that it could be distracting the police from confronting the actual issues that lead to the incidents of violence in the city. A law professor at the University of the District of Colombia, Andrew Ferguson has written a book on police technology, and he says,

“Real answers are hard. They involve better education, better economic opportunity, dealing with poverty, and mental illness.”

Predictive algorithms have been found to be quite helpful to control the crime in a city as big as Chicago. However, these are not even close to the required complete solution. The vigilance and competence of the officers is a must ingredient to reduce the crime rate in the country.

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