Crime Fighting With Predictive Analytics

Police from as far away as Hong Kong are coming to the Memphis Police Department to see its much-touted Blue CRUSH predictive analytics-driven crime-fighting effort that officials say has reduced serious crime by 15 percent in four years, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The department is fielding calls and expecting visits from police in Boston, Richmond, Baltimore — even Estonia. Chattanooga police just spent two days looking at it. A Chilean diplomat has inquired.

The use of new technology helps the Memphis Police Department file reports on the spot — making them available to detectives within minutes — and check for local and national outstanding warrants instantly.

“I'm not pumping this up,” said MPD crime analyst John F. Williams. “This actually works. It's working and it can work anywhere across the country, and it can work for any agency across the nation. … We don't have to promote this.”

Instead, SPSS, an IBM company, is promoting it, and its role in providing Memphis the software that lets precinct commanders target crime hot spots with added resources based on previously unseen patterns in incident report data. “The Memphis Police Department is changing the face of law enforcement,” a recent IBM press release says.

IBM is also circulating a June case study that says Memphis made an 863 percent return on its investment, calculated using the percentage decline in crime and the number and cost of additional cops that would be needed to match the declining rate.

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