Harris County plans to use predictive analysis to target certain individuals they believe may commit a crime and will increase policing in certain neighborhoods to arrest repeat offenders, though they will not be hiring more officers. The reasoning behind the use of predictive analytics to increase policing in some areas stems from increased crime rates and people released on bonds that commit another crime. County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Adrian Garcia who both plan to run for re-election in 2022 announced the “Harris County Safe” plan Tuesday morning.
“Even though crime is up, the good news is that the violent crime and the violent crime increase is concentrated in particular communities within our county”. Hidalgo says the “precision policing” initiative will cost the county $2.6 million and provide 96 additional officers on patrol per day.
The plan does not call for the hiring of additional deputies but will fund overtime pay for existing officers for 120 days. That means that overworked, exhausted deputies will be frustrated because they work so many hours in demanding environments. Holly Hansen from The Texan reported that “other measures have included spending $11 million on new programs administered by the county health department and $50 million on a program to address crime “through environmental design” that adds streetlights, sidewalks, and trees to high crime neighborhoods”.
Predictive policing is very controversial and research shows that it produces more harm to communities, especially to poorer people and people of color. Professor Alan Dettlaff of the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work says, “Any ‘policing program’ that uses ‘analytics’ is inherently racist due to how these data are constructed. This will only lead to increased disparities and further racist outcomes at the hands of the police”.
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