- Predictive policing techniques combine traditional criminal data with unorthodox information such as upcoming paydays to generate predictions about where crime is likely to happen in the future.
- Memphis has been using a predictive policing system called Blue CRUSH to lower crime rates there. Since the system was instituted citywide in 2006, violent and major property crimes are down 26 percent.
- Predictive policing techniques raise questions about whether they might be used to deem individuals guilty before they commit a crime. In addition, criminologists do not know how well they truly work.
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Patrolman joseph cunningham and I are hunting for criminals. not just any crooks but home burglars. And not just anywhere: although the city of Memphis covers 315 square miles, our search area has been narrowed to just a few square blocks of low brick apartment buildings in a crime-plagued part of town. The search date and time, too, have been tightly defined—Thursday, between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. The shift begins now. “I don’t anticipate any car chases tonight, but if one happens, be sure to put your seat belt on,” Cunningham says as we pull out from the station.
In squad car number 6540, Cunningham and I reach the area that his report has flagged. We are scouting for would-be burglars in general—“I’m looking for people who look like they don’t have a place to go,” Cunningham explains—and one suspect in particular: a man named Devin who may be behind a recent spate of break-ins in the area. Cunningham pulls up Devin’s picture on a dashboard-mounted touch screen.