November 23, 2011

Time Magazine Names SCPD's Predictive Policing as one of top 50 Inventions of 2011

The Santa Cruz Police Department’s predictive policing program was named by Time Magazine as one of the fifty best inventions of 2011. In the November 28, 2011 issue (already in newsstands) the magazine said the program helps the department “get ahead of the bad guys.” In the last few years, the prestigious Invention Issue listed the iPad, electric car and even devices that help people walk again among their top inventions.

“We are honored to be recognized by Time Magazine for our predictive policing program” Police Chief Kevin Vogel said. “Innovation is the key to modern policing and we’re proud to be leveraging technology in a way that keeps our community safer.”

The predictive policing program, developed by Dr. George Mohler of Santa Clara University and a team from UCLA, uses an earthquake aftershock model to determine where future crimes will occur. Similar to the predictability of an aftershock after an earthquake, the models predicts that there will be “aftercrimes” after an initial crime. The program does not cost the agency anything.

This groundbreaking model is now being used by the Los Angeles Police Department. This week, LAPD invited Lt. Bernie Escalante and Zach Friend down to speak to roll calls about the program and aid in their launch.

In the first few months of using the program the Santa Cruz Police Department has seen a decrease in the targeted crime types (burglaries and motor vehicle thefts). The program has shown to be much more accurate in predicting where crimes will occur, breaking down targeted locations into 500 foot by 500 foot areas. In January the department will work with the researchers to do a full analysis of the program. Lessons that are being learned by SCPD and LAPD will be integrated into the next generation of the program for other law enforcement agencies.