By Jamia Yant
April 13th, 2012
In order to effectively compare and contrast the application of information technology (IT) to optimize police departments’ performance to reduce crime versus random patrols of the streets, we first have to look at exactly what information technology is available to police today. The term predictive policing is the name given to “any policing strategy or tactic that develops and uses information and advanced analysis to inform forward-thinking crime prevention”. (Predictive Policing Symposium, 2010) The five elements of predictive policing focusing on are integrated information and operations, seeing the big picture, cutting-edge analysis and technology, linkage to performance, adaptability to changing conditions. There are a very large number of ways technology used to implement these five elements: patrol staffing and resource allocation, time and location of future incidence in a crime pattern, identify individuals who are likely to reoffend/early detection of career criminals, analysis of predatory patterns, threat and vulnerability assessment, city/neighborhood planning, traffic management, crowd control …and the list goes on. In a world where technology is developing and evolving faster than it can be implemented, it is realistic to assume that the police force would adapt and use that technology to place them in a good position to be able to adequately and effectively do its job. The first element, integrated information and operation, removes silos allowing for simpler and timelier access to information. It centers on developing, managing, and operating and integrated information infrastructure. One of the largest IT pitfalls of many businesses is having information isolated with departments. The police are no different, they maintain many multiple databases. Rarely, in the past, were any of those systems connected. This was a huge breakdown in communication. Information needs to be cross functional. Information sources needs to be linked to police analytical systems. Poor information sharing can hinder and prevent effective analysis and investigation. In order to effectively predict the future and take necessary action is to have a complete picture of the current situation. It is a must for police to integrate their information systems to enable situational awareness. The second element, seeing the big picture, can be interpreted several ways correctly. But as a whole, it is interpreted in this situation as being able to get a collective vision on an entire geographical area, as well as, using the data to more effectively schedule resources and develop cities and neighborhoods. It is important to view each incident the police have to deal with as an information gathering opportunity. It is important the police are able to use the information gathered to then see patterns developing in communities. Everyday activities can eat up officer’s time and energy but it is important they still be able to get beyond crisis control and strategize for better crime control. The third element, cutting edge analysis and technology, is as straight forward as it sounds. “There is a wealth of tools and technology already available and it is imperative that departments learn how to use them.” (Predictive Policing Symposium, 2010) The fourth element, linkage to performance, is an extension of the more than just the HR version of tracking performance. Police performance needs to be tracked but they also need to track performance targets and crime trends. This tracking enables forecasting that is very valuable in the prediction of future crimes. The new technology available allows police to input their own situations/scenarios instead of being limited to past situations. Police need to be enabled to see bad trends developing before they become a public threat. Resource and personnel...
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