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Privacy is another key concern. In Chicago, Illinois, one scientist has helped the police department generate a list of individuals deemed likely to perpetrate or be victims of violent crime in the near future; those people are then told they're considered at risk, even if they have done nothing wrong.

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To what degree predictive policing actually prevents crime, meanwhile, is up for debate. Proponents point to quick reductions in crime rates. But John Hollywood, an analyst for RAND Corporation in Arlington, Virginia, who co-authored a report on the issue, says the advantage over other best-practice techniques is "incremental at best. The notion of crime forecasting dates back to , when sociologist Clifford R. Shaw of the University of Chicago and criminologist Henry D.

McKay of Chicago's Institute for Juvenile Research wrote a book exploring the persistence of juvenile crime in specific neighborhoods.

Using Modeling to Predict and Prevent Victimization

Scientists have experimented with using statistical and geospatial analyses to determine crime risk levels ever since. In the s, the National Institute of Justice NIJ and others embraced geographic information system tools for mapping crime data, and researchers began using everything from basic regression analysis to cutting-edge mathematical models to forecast when and where the next outbreak might occur. But until recently, the limits of computing power and storage prevented them from using large data sets. By then, police departments were catching up in data collection, making crime forecasting "a real possibility rather than just a theoretical novelty," says UCLA anthropologist Jeffrey Brantingham.

LAPD was using hot spot maps of past crimes to determine where to send patrols—a strategy the department called "cops on the dot. One commonly used approach in predictive policing seeks to forecast where and when crime will happen; another focuses on who will commit crime or become a victim. Some crimes are caused by built-in features of the environment, like a bar that closes at 2 a. Others, such as a series of gang murders or a rash of neighborhood burglaries, happen because criminals' success invites more crimes or incites retaliation. Criminologists call this "repeat victimization"—the criminal equivalent of aftershocks.

The software, used by 60 police departments around the country, incorporates a narrow set of closely related crime events from both the immediate and longer-term past, with more recent crimes given heavier weight. At the beginning of a shift, officers are shown maps with bymeter boxes indicating where crime is likely to flare up.

Fighting crime, the company says in promotional slides, is about "getting in the box. A fit, genial man who looks like Mr. As a result, the duo hypothesized, reports of minor crimes could help predict potential flare-ups of violent crime. In a gang confrontation, Neill says, "maybe it starts out with harsh words and offensive graffiti, and turns into fist fights, which turn into shootings, which turn into lots of shootings. The department is using network analysis to generate a highly controversial Strategic Subject List of people deemed at risk of becoming either victims or perpetrators of violent crimes.

Officers and community members then pay visits to people on the list to inform them that they are considered high-risk. There are some cities where they have done a great job on hot spot policing, and they have terrible relationships with their communities of color. Being white insulated him from some of the violence, he says: "The color of my skin meant I never had to join a gang. And in bringing bad press, the program has contributed to the problems of the beleaguered CPD, which a mayoral task force described last April as having "systemic institutional failures going back decades that can no longer be ignored.

Papachristos—who is not involved with the Strategic Subject List himself—cautions that the program overemphasizes both an individual's potential to offend and the use of policing, rather than other services, to fight crime. Carmichael, S. Sanctions, perceived anger, and criminal offending. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. Special Issue: Offender Decision Making, 20 4 , Chapple, C. An analysis of the self-control and criminal versatility of gang and dating violence offenders. Violence and Victims, 18 6 , Doob, A. Responding to Youth Crime in Canada.

Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Sentence severity and crime: Accepting the null hypothesis. Tonry Ed. Dugan, L. The differential risk of retaliation by relational distance: A more general model of violent victimization. Criminology, 43 3 , Exum, M.

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    Matsueda, R. Kreager and D. Deterring delinquents: A rational choice model of theft and violence. American Sociological Review, 71 1 , Nofziger, S. Violent lives: A lifestyle model linking exposure to violence to juvenile violent offending. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 42 1 , Petraitis, J.