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Here Are Hundreds of Pages of Official Documents About Predictive Policing in America

Motherboard is publishing several hundred pages of documents we obtained from police departments by using Freedom of Information requests.

by Caroline Haskins
Feb 26 2019, 7:28pm

Image: Shutterstock

Earlier this month, Motherboard published an investigation which detailed how law enforcement agencies nationwide are using and have used PredPol, a controversial software that claims to be able to predict crime.

Academics have claimed that the algorithm which powers PredPol, at least it has been presented to police, is not nuanced enough to be able to actually predict crime. More accurately, the software predicts future policing by sending police to places in which they have policed before.

Now, we’ve published all of the documents we got back that informed our initial investigation.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • “Best Practices and Training Guide”: In a document dated May 30 2014, PredPol recommends “broken windows” policing. Broken windows is a controversial, unproven method of policing which postulates that harshly penalizing petty crime will improve safety in cities overall.
  • “How predictable is crime”: This document features Jeffrey Brantingham, chief of research and development at PredPol, who wrote, “Crime prevention benefits everybody. I can’t see how that wouldn’t be an appropriate direction to move.”
  • “PredPolPresentation_2013_March_1.pdf”: This document dated March 1, 2013 lists over a dozen US cities as “current or near term deployments.”
  • “SS911Presentation 08Aug2014”: This document also named over a dozen US cities in a list titled “Who is using PredPol?” The list ends with a bullet point stating “And many more…”