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Charleston Police Dept Using Computer System to Predict Crimes

South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyers

shutterstock_383389228The Charleston Police Department has started using a pilot program in predictive policing, a strategy that uses computer software to analyze crime data and predict where crimes will likely happen next.

Chief Gregory Mullen announced last month in the Charleston City Paper that the police department had started using a program developed by IBM to look at patterns of armed robberies across the city.

Within the next year officials say Charleston will also be participating in a Cop Link program which will allow them to share information with law enforcement officers in North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Charleston County, Horry County, and SLED.

Predictive Policing Success

Predictive policing has had success in the past.

Memphis police officers started using IBM’s software in 2005, and as a result saw a 30-percent reduction in serious crime and a 15-percent reduction in violent crime since 2006.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has credited a similar program for the city’s reduction in homicide rates.  He stated that police there have been analyzing crime dispatch patterns and beefing up patrols in problem areas for the past several years.

 IBM Software

The IBM software pulls date from several sources such as: crime reports, police dispatch records, video surveillance systems, geographic information systems, and weather databases.

When the system predicts that an area will likely be the site of armed robberies, police can increase the number of patrols in that area. Mullen says that the goal is for the software to be used to prevent serious crimes and even to coordinate emergency response efforts during and after hurricanes.

The pilot program that is currently in place does not cost the city anything.  However, if the police department decides to go with IBM’s full predictive policing software, it will negotiate a contract with the company.




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