‘Predictive policing’ harnesses computers to head off crime
Los Angeles police are aiming to beat suspects to the scene of a crime by using computers to predict where trouble might occur. The Los Angeles Police Department is the largest agency to embrace ‘‘predictive policing,’’ which crunches data to determine where to send officers to thwart would-be thieves and burglars. Early successes could serve as a model for other cash-strapped law enforcement agencies, but some legal observers are concerned it could lead to unlawful stops and searches that violate Fourth Amendment protections. In the San Fernando Valley, officers are seeing double-digit drops in burglaries and other property crimes. The program has turned enough in-house skeptics into believers that there are plans to roll it out citywide by next summer.