- Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Cruise uses psychics’ prediction
- LAPD system uses crime stats on computers to send officers to ‘red spots’
- Burglaries down 33 per cent and violent crime down 21 per cent since introduction last November
PUBLISHED: 06:25 EST, 12 April 2012 | UPDATED: 07:28 EST, 12 April 2012
It’s a system straight from the Hollywood blockbuster Minority Report.
Police in downtown Los Angelese are fighting crime by predicting offences – before they have even happened.
Unlike the usual method of responding to 911 calls, cops use computers which show them ‘red spots’ where an incident is most likely to occur.
They are then deployed onto the streets in a bid to deter thugs, burglers and gangsters from going on their next crime spree.
The programme has some similarities with the hit science fiction film Minority Report. The movie is set in 2054 and a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes.
However, unlike LAPD’s system who use computer data, those in Minority Report employ special psychics called ‘precogs’.
Tom Cruise plays ‘PreCrime’ captain John Anderton but the system eventually predicts that he will commit a future murder and he has to take flight.
Such disturbing situations are unlikely to happen with LAPD’s system, which uses crime statistics – and not premonitions – to pinpoint the next likely incident.
The ‘predictive policing’ system being used in the Foothill Division of downtown LA has been developed from the same kind of mathematical calculations used to predict earthquakes and aftershocks.
It analyses the times, dates, and places of recent crimes such as burglaries, break-ins, and car thefts. It also looks at the frequency of offences and predicts how many are likely to be carried out if the trend continues.
If a spate of crimes have happened in one area, or a crook appears to be moving across the region, this is flagged up the software. The data is then aggregated and ‘hot spots’ are formed.
Capt. Sean Malinowski says the system is able to put police on the streets before crimes have happened.
‘Sixty-five percent of our crimes are burglary, grand theft auto and burglary from a motor vehicle. And that’s what these boxes represent,’ he told CBS.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said the main goal was to prevent crime. Since the system was introduced burglaries are down 33 per cent and violent crime is also down 21 per cent.
Police Chf Beck said: ‘I love catching people – it’s what I live for – but what I’d rather do is live in a place and work in a place where crime didn’t happen.
‘Everybody thinks they do their profession as well as it can be done and so they don’t need any help. If this old street cop can change the way that he thinks about these things, then I know my kids can do the same.’
He added that the system helps police to use their officers more effectively. It has been tested in the Foothill Division since last November and if it is found to be successful it could be roled out across more divisions in LA.