Predictive Policing Blog

5 Common Myths About PredPol

Predictive policing is a broadly defined term, and for many people, one that invokes a distinct feeling of unease. Movies like “Minority Report” and recent news do little to ease those fears. In this post we debunk some of the most common myths you might have heard about PredPol and our predictive policing solution. 

Myth #1 - PredPol is Profiling:

PredPol only collects the following data from an agency's records management system (RMS) to produce predictions. This information is collected directly from the victim of the crime itself. The only items of information we collect are:

  • Incident type (residential burglary, robbery, assault, etc.)
  • Incident location (address or latitude/longitude)
  • Incident date and time (or a time range if the exact time is not known)
  • Case ID, docket number or other unique identifier.

Notice that we’re not collecting anything else about the victim and nothing at all about an alleged perpetrator. We DO NOT use demographic, economic, or any kind of potential “profiling” information about the location or neighborhood where the incident took place. The what-where-when information from the RMS is all our model needs and nothing more.

Myth #2 - Predictions Guarantee a Crime or Arrest.

Despite our name, PredPol doesn't actually "predict" crimes. What we do is process large datasets of victimization information to find the highest-risk locations for specified crimes types for each day and shift. When officers are on patrol, their presence is likely to have the greatest deterrent effect in these PredPol-designated areas. Deterrence is the ultimate goal - that means no crime, no victim, and nobody to arrest. 

Myth #3 - PredPol requires major time and financial requirements from agencies.

PredPol is extremely user friendly and can be used on any internet-enabled device, including smartphones, tablets and MDTs. It takes very little training before officers are using it effectively out in the field. 

PredPol can make every dollar spent on patrol in your department more effective. Proactively patrolling areas where crimes are most likely to occur has been proven to reduce the incidence of those crimes. Reducing even one instance of one of type of crime can free up two or more hours of an officer’s patrol time. In other words, reducing just one crime per shift can add another 2 hours of effective patrol time. That’s like getting a 20% increase in your patrol staff for a fraction of the cost!

Myth #4 - PredPol ONLY does predictions.

Think of PredPol as more of a patrol management solution. Yes, we provide you with predictions, but just as importantly we help you to optimize your patrol operations by providing you with actionable insight. Our GPS and patrol heat map features show command staff exactly where their officers patrol and how much time they've spent in a specific area during their shift. And now, with our new Custom Boxes feature, we've added another level of control and transparency. Command officers can augment PredPol's patrol recommendations with their own custom patrol areas for special events or assignments. This degree of transparency into patrol operations has given agencies a more objective way to manage their officers. Our robust analytics and reporting dashboard allows command staff to define missions, assign targeted patrol areas to officers, monitor their performance and ultimately measure their crime-prevention impact.

When you deploy PredPol, you add 3 valuable tools to your agency: prediction boxes to guide your officers, GPS/AVL tracking to manage your resources in the field, and analytics to measure results and help you plan future missions.

Analytics Dashboard

patrol heat map

Analytics Dashboard

Myth #5 - PredPol is a burden to officers.

Actually just the opposite! PredPol reduces the burden on officers because we guide them where to patrol; they no longer have to wonder where their patrol time is going to be the most effective. We suggest an officer spend 6 minutes per hour, about 10% of patrol time, in PredPol boxes for an optimum balance between time spent and crime reduction.

Want to learn more?

Schedule a PredPol demo!