Using technology to solve crimes is nothing new, at least not in the last few decades. With everything from forensic science innovations to DNA testing to facial recognition software and more, law enforcement agencies are relying on science to find their bad guys. But what if technology could tell the police before the crime was committed? That’s what a new software already in use in some police departments is working for.
The reality of this type of law enforcement software–that produces an idea known as “predictive policing”–is that it’s not some high-tech, Big Brother model of the future. It’s basic analysis, practically nothing more than an overblown database of previous crimes that then predicts possible trends based on a number of variables. These trends can include where crime is likely to happen, as well as what kinds of crime. Then the resulting information is used to increase police patrols in those areas while also informing the officers what to be especially watchful for. This is vital time-saving software in places where budget limitations have reduced the manpower on police forces to the barest minimum.
One Kansas town, Newton, is already using a specific analytical software, and with hopeful, positive results. Currently, what’s keeping the software from being more effective for their police force is the fact that only one person in the department knows how to use it. That’s supposed to change in the coming year, when all of their officers will be trained on it. Of course, according to an article on this town’s use of the software, “all” of the officers means all three policemen who work on any given shift, a woefully small number charged with protecting the 20,000 residents. That’s certainly a contributing factor in why Newton is the third highest city in Kansas for per capita crime.