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Category Archives: predictive policing

Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing

Posted by Douglas Wood, CEO of Case Closed Software – a leader in investigation software  and analytics for law enforcement.
Headquartered here in Central Texas, I recently had an opportunity to have coffee with Dr. Sarah Brayne, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Brayne had just published an interesting article in The American Sociological Review. The article is titled Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing.
The article examines the intersection of two emerging developments: the increase in surveillance and the massive exploration of “big data.” Drawing on observations and interviews conducted within the Los Angeles Police Department, Sarah offers an empirical account of how the adoption of big data analytics does—and does not—transform police surveillance practices.
She argues that the adoption of big data analytics facilitates may amplify previous surveillance practices, and outlines the following findings:

  1. Discretionary assessments of risk are supplemented and quantified using risk scores.
  2. Data tends to be used for predictive, rather than reactive or explanatory, purposes. (Here, Crime Tech Weekly would want to differentiate between predictive analytics and investigation analytics)
  3. The proliferation of automatic alert systems makes it possible to systematically surveil an unprecedentedly large number of people.
  4. The threshold for inclusion in law enforcement databases (gang databases, criminal intelligence data, etc) is lower, now including individuals who have not had direct police contact. (Here again, Crime Tech Weekly would point out that adherence to criminal intelligence best practices vastly reduces this likelihood)
  5. Previously separate data systems are merged, facilitating the spread of surveillance into a wide range of institutions.

Based on these findings, Sarah develops a theoretical model of big data surveillance that can be applied to institutional domains beyond the criminal justice system. Finally, she highlights the social consequences of big data surveillance for law and social inequality.
The full PDF report can be downloaded via Sage Publishing by clicking here. Or, if you have general comments or questions and do not wish to download the full version, please feel free to contact us through the form below. Crime Tech Weekly will be happy to weigh in.

Jill Leovy on Preventive Policing and Its Effect on Black Communities

The following article is the work of Joe Muscolino and originally appears at http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/02/jill-leovy-on-preventive-policing-and-its-effect-on-black-communities/ .
Crime Tech Weekly, is reposting for the convenience of our readers.

This may not come as a shock: there’s very little incentive in America to fix the homicide rates plaguing the poorer parts of our country’s cities. The fact that it’s not that shocking is perhaps part of the problem, and it’s one of the many points finely sharpened and well-defended by Jill Leovy in Ghettoside, a book that both documents a single murder investigation as well as zooms out to offer a searing look at the stasis we’ve settled into as a country.

Leovy, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and creator of The Homicide Report, joins Signature in the video above to discuss the consequences to the policy of preventive policing. The upshot of preventive policing, Leovy argues, is the enforcement of minor crimes: “The result of that when you’re in it is that your son is getting pulled over every day, and humiliated, and hemmed up against a wall for seemingly no reason. And yet, your nephew’s murder is still unsolved.” This, in turn, encourages communities to enter the lawless world of self-policing.
The relationship between our nation’s police force and black communities remains so rocky and so politically charged that simply raising the subject is like blowing a battle horn. Leovy, though, does so in a way that antagonizes no one and instead, with empathy and insight, seeks to answer how we as a community and country can simply do better to solve the problem. Read on for the transcript of the video, or visit the ten most salient lessons we learned from Leovy’s book here.
We’ve always had these ways of kind of clearing the streets of people who might be threatening and might be menacing, and yet having a very poor record of solving homicides. You have a history of policing that focuses on nuisance policing, predictive policing, preventive policing, which translated means enforcing minor crimes.
The result of that when you’re in it is that your son is getting pulled over every day, and humiliated, and hemmed up against a wall for seemingly no reason. And yet, your nephew’s murder is still unsolved. You can’t but be infuriated by it, and many people are infuriated. It’s a huge incentive for retaliation if someone killed your brother and they’re walking around the neighborhood and the police aren’t going to do anything about it. The temptation to retaliate yourself becomes much greater.
I interviewed a mother of a murder victim the day after her son was murdered who told me that she knew who did it, they were neighbors down the street, and that they had come to her door after he died and taunted her and laughed at her for her grief, and told her that if she told police they would kill her, and so she was remaining silent and not cooperating with the police investigation. Even an outsider almost wants to kill in a situation like that, so for the people living this everyday it’s a constant temptation to self-police, and indeed you do see this high rate of self-policing in these neighborhoods.
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