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BLOG: Analytics help police stop crime before it happens

Linda Rosencrance | Nov. 16, 2011
Capt. Sean Malinowski of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has just done something once unimaginable for a commanding officer: He's given up control of deploying his beat officers to a computer.

It's a win-win, he says. "We give the researchers the data and we're a real-world laboratory for the researchers [and it doesn't cost us anything]."

But there may be a small downside. Malinowski acknowledges that the patrol officers who are assigned to do crime analysis worry that they'll be replaced by the new system.

"It's difficult for people to get their heads around the fact that the computer could generate these specific geographic locations where crimes are most likely to occur," he says. "And it's hard because they feel there's a lot of special knowledge that they can bring to the forecast that the computer can't."

But the bottom line for Malinowski is to deny the criminal the opportunity to commit the crime he intended to commit. "He doesn't get arrested and we don't spend time booking him," the commanding officer says, "and someone doesn't get his laptop stolen out of his car."


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