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City of Seattle

February 27, 2:46 PM click here to comment > 6

Introducing new “Predictive Policing” software

Mayor Mike McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz announced today that new “Predictive Policing” software has been deployed in the East and Southwest Precincts. The software was designed by the University of California, Los Angeles in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department. It has been used by police departments all over the nation to reduce crime through deep analysis of crime and location data.

“This technology will allow us to be proactive rather than reactive in responding to crime,” said Mayor McGinn. “This investment along with our existing hot spot policing work will help us to fulfill the commitments we made in the 20/20 Plan to use data in deploying our officers to make our streets safer.”

“The Predictive Policing software is estimated to be twice as effective as a human data analyst working from the same information” said Police Chief Diaz. “It’s all part of our effort to build an agile, flexible and innovative police department that provides the best service possible to the public.”

Based on models for predicting aftershocks from earthquakes, Predictive Policing forecasts the locations where crime is likely to occur, down to a geographic area as small as 500 feet by 500 feet. It works by entering all crime and location data dating back to 2008 into a complex algorithm that generates a prediction about where crimes are likely to take place on a certain day and time. Officers are provided with these forecasts before beginning their shifts, and are assigned to use their “proactive time” between 911 calls to patrol those areas.

Very few pieces of data are needed to make predictions – the software works from just types of crime committed, location and time. No information on who committed crimes in the past or any other identifying information is included in the data set. The SPD 20/20 team worked closely on implementation of this software to ensure that it meets community expectations for privacy and addresses concerns about bias.

“We anticipate that this software will help us in our work to eliminate institutional bias in the Seattle Police Department” said 20/20 leader Assistant Chief Mike Sanford. “With Predictive Policing, we’re sending officers right to where we know the crime is, helping to take any unconscious bias out of the equation.”

Predictive Policing is currently analyzing only property crimes in East and Southwest Precincts, but the department anticipates rolling it out in every precinct in April 2013, with analysis of other types of crime soon to follow.

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Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance


Pingback from SPD Rolls Out Predictive Policing Software | Seattle, WA 98122
Time February 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm

[…] Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz unveiled SPD’s new Predictive Policing software at a press conference today. […]

Pingback from The Reader – Predictive Policing software | Seattle, WA 98122
Time March 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm

[…] new “Predictive Policing” software Mayor McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz announced this week that new “Predictive Policing” software has been deployed in the East and Southwest Precincts. […]

Comment from Tony Sacco Jr.
Time March 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Ok, I am open to the idea… sounds fine.. but I’m pretty sure that one of the areas this fancy predictor is going to come up with is Rainier Beach.. and within 500 yards of Rainier Ave S and S. Henderson St. When will the Mayor and Chief Diaz return the Mobile Unit to the Rainier Beach area… Software is great and will help, but here in Rainier Beach we already know where the help is needed!..

Comment from Segue Fischlin
Time March 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm

With all due respect Mayor McGinn, predictive policing sounds no different than profiling. Profiling has resulted in an increase in crime, not a decrease. If you treat enough people like they are criminals, many of them will respond to the pigeonholing by BECOMING the criminals you expect them to be. A lot of innocent people are harrassed by the police these days. I hear stories regularly. I’ve seen entire neighborhoods ‘cleaned up’ by the SPD over a compressed period of time (3-4months). This sort of targeting results in backlash, like the night I had my head smashed into the wall of a McDonalds by gangsters. It makes people angry. Being white was enough for them to justify their actions in their minds. I believe that profiling, racial or otherwise, is divisive to communities and creates, not controls, criminal behavior. In essence, it justifies the need for a police department (and a sizeable budget) but does nothing to reduce crime in the bigger picture. And it justifies in the mind of the victimizer the need to act out in vengeance.

Also, please keep in mind that it is the LAPD that created the situation in the mind of Christopher Dorner. That’s a pretty stern condemnation of LAPD’s approach to crime if you ask me, cultivating criminal behavior within their very ranks.

Comment from Hank Williams
Time March 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

@Segue Fischlin.

Please. You read this article and read exactly what you wanted to read, not what it says. You are exceedingly transparent.

I applaud the use of DATA to make informed decisions.

Comment from Greg Marshall
Time March 22, 2013 at 4:17 am

Predictive Policing software? Is this a joke? Who wades through all of the data? Why not use sites such as to mine data? This seems like an empty software promise.