Crime forecasters

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Science  30 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6307, pp. 1484-1487
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6307.1484

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Many police departments, both in the United States and abroad, have adopted or are interested in predictive policing, an approach that seeks to predict where and when crime is likely to occur or identifies people most at risk of becoming a perpetrator or a victim. Supporters say predictive policing—which uses large data sets and algorithms borrowed from fields as diverse as seismology and epidemiology—can help bring down crime rates while also reducing bias in policing. But civil liberties groups and racial justice organizations argue that the algorithms perpetuate racial prejudice and they worry about privacy issues. To what degree predictive policing actually prevents crime, meanwhile, is still up for debate.

  • * in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Photography by Stephanie Strasberg