“Predictive policing” is one of the newest tools in the police arsenal against crime. It’s also highly debated.
Understanding how predictive policing is used — and misused — is essential to protecting your rights. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s predictive policing?
Essentially, predictive policing is the use of artificial intelligence and computer algorithms to forecast where crime may happen — and who may commit it.
Predictive policing uses things like geographic data, current events, social network activity and statistics about behavior and past criminal activity to identify who might commit a crime or might be a victim. Police can then step up their enforcement in certain areas and prepare, in advance, for problems.
What’s the problem with predictive policing?
Unfortunately, the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out,” applies. When you use flawed data, you get flawed results. Much of the historical data being used reflects the racial biases that have led to increased arrests in neighborhoods populated by people of color.
There are also serious privacy issues involved in predictive policing. Someone can be placed on a watch list by the authorities for any number of reasons — even nonviolent involvement with the law or social media posts. At that point, they’re subject to monitoring by the police without their knowledge.
Could predictive policing lead to unreasonable intrusions and unfair arrests?
Absolutely. In the rush to prevent crime, the police can be too aggressive — and people can end up facing absurd charges over small events.
Police misconduct comes in many different forms. Not all of them are violent. If you’ve been the victim of outrageous conduct, excessive force, unlawful arrest or false imprisonment, take immediate steps to protect your future.