Predictive Policing Project Reduces Crime in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Sarah Rich, Government Technology, August 19, 2011

The Santa Cruz, Calif., Police Department implemented a six-month predictive policing pilot project, which began July 1, to help officers predict certain types of crime in the city before it happens.

Through the predictive model, officers will patrol areas that weren’t previously receiving enough of a police presence with the goal of deterring crime.

The project uses an algorithm that is similar to what’s used for predicting earthquake aftershocks. “There’s a belief that certain crime types–in this case, burglaries and vehicle thefts–can be predicted in the same way,” said Zach Friend, the Santa Cruz Police Department’s press information officer and principal management analyst.

{snip}

For the six-month pilot, the Police Department pulls crime data every day from its record management system that tracks crime that’s been reported in the city. The data is put into a spreadsheet and geo-coded and then run through Mohler’s Web-based computer algorithm.

The result is 10 maps outlining Santa Cruz’s crime hot spots, which are distributed to police officers, who then can patrol more efficiently based on that information.

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In the nearly two months of use, the pilot has garnered positive results. Since the pilot’s deployment, the model has correctly predicted 40 percent of the crimes that it was aiming to predict, and the Santa Cruz Police Department has seen a reduction in the types of crime that it’s been addressing.

In addition, the Police Department saw a 27 percent decrease in the number of reported burglaries in July compared with July 2010. Friend said the department won’t know how successful the model is until it’s been running for at least three months.

{snip}

Santa Cruz’s model also removes potential biases officers may have about a particular area they patrol, according to Friend. If an officer has patrolled a certain neighborhood for a few years and is aware of problematic homes with inhabitants that have a history of drug use or criminal activity, that officer may feel inclined to spend additional time going by those locations.

“The model normalizes the information. It doesn’t look at people, it simply looks at crime,” Friend said. “[The model] may reinforce that you should go back to the [problem] area, but maybe only twice that week as opposed to all four days that you work your shift.”

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  • margaret

    The courts will find that even the computers profile blacks as crime prone and outlaw this as racial profiling.

    The ADL/SPLC will classify this computer program as a hate crime.

    This is an excellent move. The police can defend themselves against racial profiling charges with the computer predictions. Hope other jurisdictions are learning about this.

    I doubt however that the Judges and ACLU will let it stand.

  • Lactaesha Leche-Jones

    OK, cool, use the nice unbiased algorithm…. But I’d betcha dollars to donuts that the “high crime areas” are BLACK and Latino.

  • Lucas

    As soon as some affirmitive action, Berkley-educated, race baiting liberal studies the results he will declare that the web-based algorithm is racist and flawed because although it is scientific, objective and unbiased the end result was that more minorities were arrested.

    What other possible explanation could exist for more minorities being arrested?

    Only a matter of time before it is discontinued, otherwise the protestors and race hucksters will be out in force screaming discrimination.

  • Question Diversity

    No need to go through all that expense. Use the New York Times Census Explorer, zoom to Santa Cruz, Calif., filter to black and Hispanic population. There’s where most of your violent crime will be.

    http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/explorer

    Also, the Washington Post has a similar but a bit harder to use version, but this one is a bit better because you can compare 2010, 2000 and 1990 racial census data all the way down to the census tract level, seeing how a tract, division or county “diversifies” over time:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/census/2010/

  • Anonymous

    Just like school tests, IQ tests, and civil service tests, this predictive crime spotting program will be deemed inappropriate and biased. Even if it saves lives and is proven to be accurate.

  • Anonymous

    2 — Lactaesha Leche-Jones wrote at 6:52 PM on August 23:

    OK, cool, use the nice unbiased algorithm…. But I’d betcha dollars to donuts that the “high crime areas” are BLACK and Latino.

    ————-

    Of course they are. The Santa Cruz area is full of mexicans.

    Here is something that makes my blood boil!

    I’m sure this is just what Obama had in mind when he stopped the deportation of illegals.

    RIP Christopher Rowe.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/23/BAKT1KQCNH.DTL

  • Anonymous

    “The model normalizes the information. It doesn’t look at people, it simply looks at crime,” Friend said. “[The model] may reinforce that you should go back to the [problem] area, but maybe only twice that week as opposed to all four days that you work your shift.”

    ——————-

    Ah yes, because we all know that CRIME occurs independent of people. You know, like RAIN, or SUNSHINE.

    Wow, the depraved depths of the marxist intellectual!

  • Anonymous

    If you’re white, they base entire TV shows on profiling you. It’s considered entertainment.

  • SunnyvaleSal

    I haven’t been in Santa Cruz (except for day trips to the Boardwalk) for many years but when I was working there, a large percentage of crime was committed by drugged out Whites. Santa Cruz had its own unique population of semi-homeless, neo-Hippie types who the locals called “trolls”. They didn’t generally engage in the violent sort of crimes that Blacks are known for, but they were very much into shoplifting and would also steal cars or anything else which was easily available. There was a gaggle of anarchists too.

    Visits to the Boardwalk recently, have certainly shown that the Mestizo population has increased dramatically, but Santa Cruz is still Whiter than many other parts of the Bay Area. And there still aren’t very many Blacks. It was also clear that many “trolls,” or whatever they are called now, are still in residence. And I bet the anarchists have actually increased in numbers (that being a sort of in thing currently). So it could be that this program won’t set off the “profiling” bells as much as it would in other areas.

  • Bill Harzia

    “Santa Cruz’s model also removes potential biases officers may have about a particular area they patrol, according to Friend. If an officer has patrolled a certain neighborhood for a few years and is aware of problematic homes with inhabitants that have a history of drug use or criminal activity, that officer may feel inclined to spend additional time going by those locations.”

    Call me crazy, but shouldn’t he be going to where the criminals are?

    Can I please have a $1,00,000 grant to study the probability that you’ll catch more crooks by going to where you KNOW they congregate?

  • james

    Haha, I long for the moment where a lifeless computer is accused of racism and fired from its job

  • Frankie

    I live in Santa Cruz County, and it’s true that there are now way too many Mexicans here, mostly in the South County city of Watsonville. Many if not most are illegal aliens, but are protected by the agriculture interests which exploit them, as well as the liberal nutcases that infest this whole area.

    Over the last few years the main violent crime has been stabbings. Lots of “Latino” gangs in these parts, and stabbing seems to be their preferred method of fighting each other and the white folks here. Yes, there are guns too, but every week for the last year there have been several stabbings each week. It’s getting out of control. Also, way too many taco stands and mexxer markets: the local food culture has gone mexxer. If you live in a town where this is just starting, do everything you can to get them to leave.

  • patthemick

    This will only work until the criminals figure out the pattern for escalation of police presence.