Not sure what to think about this.http://www.postbulletin.com/newsmanager ... 2&a=465668
Intelligence-led policing is future focus in Rochester
8/17/2010 8:24:52 AM
By Jeffrey Pieters
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
The future of law enforcement — using sophisticated data tools to predict and prevent crimes rather than just react to them — is now, says Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson.
"This is not hypothetical," Peterson said Monday in a presentation to the city council. "These systems exist in other jurisdictions, and they work very well. We have the infrastructure here."
Peterson was joined by representatives of IBM-Rochester to describe, in largely conceptual terms, the kinds of things that an "intelligence-led" police force can do. The department will seek council support for implementing new technology in the months and years ahead.
Today's computers and software can combine data from public and other sources — from driving records to building permits to jail visitation records to pet licenses — and pour it into a single pool of information available to first-responders, said Simeon McAleer of IBM.
"Wouldn't it be great if we could link 911 dispatch to animal licensing?" he said. "Is there a poodle or eight pit bulls behind that door?"
Surveillance cameras are becoming more widely used — not only in terrorism-vulnerable targets such as New York or Chicago, but in Rochester, too. Rochester's two Wal-Mart stores have 550 such cameras in them, Peterson said.
"You can imagine what a wealth of information this is if it's accessed and utilized by police officers," he said.
The city has its own cameras on buses, in skyways and in parking garages, and some city council candidates have advocated adding more. Mayo Clinic has an extensive surveillance system, and the Rochester school district has more than 250 cameras.
Recorded video helps police investigate crimes. But a technological improvement could let police use real-time images to track a fleeing vehicle or detect if a suspect is armed, McAleer said.
A recent shooting in Chicago, where IBM helped install the city's "Virtual Shield," McAleer said, was solved when a dispatcher saw the shooting on camera and told officers that the shooter had tried to blend in the crowd as a bystander and had concealed his weapon in his sock.
There would be too many cameras for one officer, or even a dozen, to keep watch on them all. That's where the computer's "eyes," programmed to recognize certain "trigger events," would come in handy, calling a human's attention when needed.
Remote cameras have a preventative effect on crime, too.
"You're less likely to do something (wrong) if you think somebody's watching," McAleer said. Or even, maybe, foreseeing. Computerized analysis of crime data might give officers a lead on where to be to prevent crimes.
This is the sort of thing a veteran officer might act on as a "hunch." For example, McAleer said, on a warm summer night, on a payday, trouble might often arise at a particular nightclub or a certain neighborhood.
Predictive technologies have been linked to dramatic decreases in violent crime in Memphis, Tenn., and Richmond, Va., McAleer said.
"The answer isn't always throwing more officers on the streets," he said.
With officers costing, on average, $100,000 per year, Peterson said, an "intelligence-led" approach could save money.
Acquiring the equipment and software might take time, although Peterson said many of the cameras are in place. Negotiating sharing rights for digital data and private cameras will take time, too, he said.
"We're not asking for unrestricted access to data," he said. "It's a partnership."
Stores would control store cameras, but when there's a crime, "flip a switch and the police department takes over," Peterson said.
Peterson has asked to hire a data analyst in next year's police department budget and is also seeking grant funding for the position.
"This is the direction of policing in this country," he said.