Wednesday, Larry Mantle’s AirTalk on KPCC focused on a new strategy that the LAPD plans to take for a test drive as a experimental program. The strategy is called predictive policing and it is already being tried out by the Santa Cruz PD, reportedly with some success. Now Los Angeles wants to give it a try—at least in the form of a pilot program.
Here are some clips from the show:
Police departments have been providing years of historic crime data to mathematicians, who’ve created algorithms to analyze and determine crime patterns. The results are predictions of where and when similar crimes are likely to occur.
Zach Friend, a crime analyst for the Santa Cruz Police Department, says the crime-fighting system is modeled on methods for predicting earthquake aftershocks. The tool comes from Santa Clara University Professor George Mohler who believes crimes follow similar patterns. Friend, who helped to launch the program in Santa Cruz, says the system works because crimes tend to occur in time and place-based patterns. Santa Cruz officials became interested in the program after the success of a similar pilot by the LAPD.
“You have a crime and there will be after-crimes that occur after that,” said Friend. The technology, he says, has helped Santa Cruz prevent crimes before they happen. Thus far his department has focused on burglaries and vehicle theft.
“The arrests are not the goal here,” says Friend, of how the program is working in Santa Cruz. Preventing crime is the goal.
In L.A., LAPD Captain Sean Malinowski says he’d like to push the envelope further; and next year use the technology to predict violent crimes. Each morning officers using the program enter crime reports into the system, which is already packed with eight years worth of data. The program then predicts 10 potential crime hot spots.
Malinowski says the technology represents a vast improvement to what the department currently uses.
“The instruments we are using seem blunt now, in terms of the kind of specificity we can get with data analysis,” he says. Malinowski says he believes the computer model helps to remove biases.
Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of law, worried that the program would lead to additional profiling and would provide an excuse for harassment.
My pal George Tita, criminologist from UC Irvine countered Professor Cohn’s concerns with down to earth information.
And, yes, Cohn’s fears could come to pass, but it would be up to LAPD management to keep an eye out for any such Minority Report-like problems.
In truth, on first bounce, the model sounds very promising.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Listen and see what you think.
DEAR SUPERVISORS: YOU’RE WORRYING ABOUT THE WRONG THING
The LA Times’ Rong-Gong Lin II has a story about the LA County Supervisors opining that crime will go up if, as Governor Brown intends, short-timer offenders (people given months-long sentences) serve out their time at the various county jails, rather than being sent to state prison for, say, 3 or 6 months, which is grossly inefficient and needlessly expensive.
The Sups also say that crime will go up if the lower-level offenders who are paroled from prison report, not to a state parole officer, but to a county probation officer (as it was decided would happen last month).
This last, especially, is ridiculous.
Currently, when inmates are released from state prison and transferred to the state parole system, they are given $200 so they can buy themselves a bus ticket home with instructions to contact a state parole officer within two business days.
But county authorities say that system [requiring them to instead contact a probation officer] could allow just-released prisoners to flee without making contact with a county probation officer.
Lin notes that the supervisors also expressed some concern that the state won’t fork over enough money to pay for the County’s added responsibility with the short time prisoners and the parolees.
That, my dears, is the one legit worry out of this whole The Sky is Falling and Criminals are Coming to Get Us! routine.. Heck, if the state fails to pay up, we should all march on Sacramento, then plant ourselves outside the governor’s office and refuse to leave until he gets out his metaphorical wallet.
But until and unless we find out that Jerry plans to welsh on his promise to pay the cost incurred by the 58 counties when they shoulder the burden of some of the state’s prisoners and parolees, how about we dial back the crime wave scare tactics.
THE SISTER OF A MURDER VICTIM WORKS FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM
Rebecca Weiker’s essay on the Juvenile Justice Exchange speaks eloquently for itself. Here’s how it opens:
A few months ago I spent the day meeting with a group of family members who have had their lives changed forever by acts of violence. Nobody there would have chosen to be a member of this group — all of us had either lost a loved one to murder, or had lost a loved one in an entirely different way. Many brothers, sisters, sons and daughters were sentenced to die in prison for a crime committed in their youth.
My sister Wendy was a therapist who was passionate about supporting young people with mental health problems. Almost 20 years ago she was murdered by one of her patients. All these years later, I only now am at a place where I can consider this crime from a position of empathy. I understand that I can choose what meaning to make of this experience.
I will never “get over” her death nor do I expect to shed the feeling of loss and deep sadness that comes from not having her in the world. She was truly a bright light in the world. She was my big sister and I looked up to her. I admired her commitment to justice, her warmth, her seemingly endless energy.
But, I believe it dishonors my sister’s memory every time a young person is sentenced to die in prison. In California prisons, nearly 300 youth have been sentenced to life in prison without parole. How can we decide that a young person’s life is entirely without worth when they are still unformed and immature?
Our broken system is far from offering real justice to either victims or offenders…
Note: Weiker is strongly in favor of passing Senate Bill 9, a California law that would give young people sentenced to life without parole the possibility of a hearing to determine if they deserve to be re-sentenced to a minimum sentence of 25-years-to-life.
Photo by Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times prognosticate