APD Rolls Out Crime Predicting Program | WABE 90.1 FM

APD Rolls Out Crime Predicting Program

Sep 20, 2013

Screenshot of APD's new predictive policing program, PredPol.
Credit Atlanta Police Department

Lt. Leanne Browning pulls up a map of Atlanta on her iPad. It looks like any other map of the city, except for the fact that it’s dotted with these small, red boxes.

“It’s saying that in this box is a high likely of occurrence of your next crime happening,” Browning says.

Browning oversees PredPol, a web-based information system modeled off of a program created by the Los Angeles Police Department that analyzes statistics from past crimes in order to predict and prevent future crimes. It’s a new program the department has been developing for the past year and rolled out on a trial period in zones 4 and 6 in mid-July.

The department has inputted 10 years’ worth of information, like the type of crime, the location and the time of day it happened, into the system, and new data is pushed to the program every five minutes. A computer then analyzes that data and creates a red box, indicating where a crime is likely to occur.

“These boxes are 500-by-500-foot square boxes that the beat officers are told if you have a box on your beat, that’s where you need to be,” Browning says, though she adds that’s only if the officer isn’t responding to other calls.

Browning says reaction to the program from patrol officers has been mixed, but most officers, especially the younger ones, seem to like it.

“They like the ability of being able to pull it up on their computers in their car, being able to see and understand the crime analysis, the history there, and they say it’s easy because it tells us where we need to be,” Browning says.

But how is this different than sticking more police in high-crime areas – or merely pushing crime to other parts of the city?  

“What makes this different is that each and every shift, you’ll have a different box, so your data tells you to move from shift to shift and from day to day,” Browning says.

Browning said because PredPol is in a trial period, she didn’t have official statistics for the area the program is being used – though she did say initial numbers indicate a big drop in crime.

Browning says APD plans to roll out PredPol department-wide in late October. The program was paid for by the fundraising arm of the department.