Predicting Problems

Imagine if police knew where and when a crime was going to happen before it occurred. It may seem impossible, but as 7’s Carmel Cafiero reports, new technology is “Predicting Problems” for one South Florida police force.

WSVN — Before Officer Adam Willson heads out on patrol, he gets some crime tips from his computer.

Lauderhill Police Officer Adam Willson: “This is actually one of the areas.”

The red box on the computer screen is changing the way the Lauderhill Police Department is cracking down on crime.

Adam Willson: “It seems very futuristic, but this is what law enforcement is starting to look at.”

The department is the first in Broward County and one of only a few in all of South Florida to sign on with a new data company called PredPol.

Adam Willson: “After roll call, they’ll get in the car and they’ll look at the PredPol boxes and they’ll see where they have an area of concern and they’ll go and patrol that area.”

How does PredPol work? It takes information about crimes that have already been committed here in Lauderhill, mixes it together with a whole bunch of complex computer data and predicts the future.

Adam Willson: “It’s almost science fact, in a way. It’s proven to work.”

Lauderhill officers get a report from PredPol. It lists areas likely to see crime that day, including the type of crime, location and time of the incident.

Adam Willson: “Every single day, it sends out two different algorithms, one for day shift and one for night shift.”

The data is broken down into several 500-square-foot areas where crimes are likely to happen next. So far, the reports have been pretty accurate.

Adam Willson: “We’ve had incidents where they were in their box and we did have calls come in.”

And more importantly for the department, it allows them to put officers in areas where they’re needed most.

Adam Willson: “It assisted with getting more resources into that area faster. Assisted with getting the bad guy in custody.”

And that has residents feeling more at ease.

Monica Gereke: “It’s perfect. Whatever we can find or police can find to keep us safe.”

The technology doesn’t take officers from other areas of the city. They go into their PredPol zones in between calls and during down time to patrol on foot and make their presence known.

Adam Willson: “They’ll park the car, like you saw back there, and they’ll get out on foot.”

The goal: look at the past to predict problems and create a safer future for everyone.

Adam Willson: “Send a very strong message that we’re out here and we’re taking a proactive approach. We’re not just sitting around taking the reports.”

Carmel Cafiero, 7 News.

PredPol cost the Lauderhill Police Department $27,000 initially and there is a $7,000 fee each year.



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