Can police use super technology to predict gun violence? According to Predictive Policing Company, the answer is a resounding yes.
The company's system uses existing crime data combined with what PPC calls “a sophisticated algorithm” to estimate where crime is likely to happen.
"Most people might think that homicide would be the best precursor for future homicides," said Joyce Shimizu, PPC's chief operation manager. "In fact, that's not the case. We've identified precursors such as battery, gun violation as well as assault."
It all sounds like something out of a science fiction movie — kind of like Minority Report but without a tub full of creepy psychics.
It is hard to imagine this technology working well, but PPC claims that the initial findings are actually quite promising. The Santa Cruz Police Department has bought into the program. They claim that during the past six months, they have seen a 12 to 25 percent drop in the number of burglaries and auto thefts compared to last year.
Perhaps the program is working after all. Alternatively, it is entirely possible that some other, unrelated factor is causing a reduction in crime.
Analicia Cube of Santa Cruz’s volunteer-based group Take Back Santa Cruz still has her doubts.
"I think our police department should look at it from an unbiased perspective," she said. "They should be quantifying it — checking it out and making sure it works before they are touting it as a success."
The Santa Cruz police have not used the technology to tackle gun violence yet, but they are considering expanding the program. If this type of technology could also reduce the number of gun violence incidents by 12 to 25 percent, then predictive technology may become the new hot thing in police agencies across America.
Do this technology sound like the wave of the future? Or do you think it is pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo?