Experts disagree on the use of predictive analysis to target repeat offenders.

Photo by Alan Boyle, “Top 10 Worst Aspects of the American Justice System”.

Recently, Harris County, Texas approved a plan to use predictive analysis to target certain individuals they believe may commit a crime. The county increased policing in certain neighborhoods with the intention of arresting certain individuals they describe as repeat offenders. Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Adrian Garcia both announced the “Harris County Safe”.

Increased crime rates in certain areas is the reasoning behind the idea of using predictive analytics and increasing police presence in some areas. The county did not hire more officers for this mission. Instead, the idea is to focus on certain areas where certain individuals can be found that they believe may commit a crime.

“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”.

On the other hand:

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”.

Read more about the “Harris County Safe” plan at The Texan

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