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May 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Seattle police to expand crime forecasting project

Mayor Mike McGinn announced Friday that Seattle police will expand their “predictive policing” software project to all five precincts, building on what he described as initial success in the East and Southwest precincts.

Under the program, computer models similar to those that predict earthquake aftershocks analyze Seattle crime data dating to 2008 to forecast times and locations where crime is likely to occur in an area as small as 500-by-500 feet.

In February, McGinn and police officials unveiled a pilot project in the East and Southwest precincts, with the goal of cutting crime and eliminating biased policing.

“We’ve had anecdotal successes with the pilot project … so we’re expanding Predictive Policing citywide,” McGinn said in a written statement.

Seattle police said the wider program will begin Sunday, when officers starting their shifts will be given precinct maps speckled with red boxes forecasting areas where officers “might be more likely to catch a burglar breaking into a home, or a prowler rifling through someone’s car.”

Officers will spend at least two hours of their shifts patrolling areas where crime is forecast, the department said.

As with the pilot program, forecasting will be limited to property crimes — which occur in the largest numbers — but could be expanded to violent crimes.

McGinn asked city residents to help by reporting even minor property crimes, so the data set for predicting crime can be improved.

Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Mayor Mike McGinn; Seattle Police Department; crime


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