Predictive Policing? What’s there to predict?

During a recent (February 11 2013) LAPD Police Commission presentation LAPD Capt. Sean Malinowski attempted to describe the science behind the latest policing craze, “predictive policing.” After a little joyful back and forth banter between himself and Commission President Steve Soboroff Malinowski asserts that he doesn’t really understand the science because its “high math and small boxes.” This gleeful assertion coming directly from the person in charge of, yep you guessed it, “predictive policing.”

As could be expected the presentation, and festivities surrounding it, felt more like a pep rally than a presentation geared towards informing the public. Left out of the presentation was the actual cost of the program and potential impacts (social and otherwise) in communities that found themselves located in one of those small boxes. The LAPD did, however, offer up that there was no criminal profiling associated with the new design–sort of suggesting that the computer is responsible for the selecting of squares thus removing bias.

That notion is of course flawed because a living and breathing human being will decide which of the multitudinous small boxes deserves the immediate attention of the LAPD.  Additionally, communities of color (and others) located in gentrifying neighborhoods will most certainly bear the brunt of this latest attempt to “put lipstick on a pig.”

Rest assure, new policing methods are simply new attempts to legitimate and legalize old and  illegal practices. It is important that we understand the tactics are the same soup warmed over and it is our job to reign in the police state.

Join the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition housed at LA CAN to learn more and do more.

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