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by Glen

Predictive Policing and Open Source Policing

February 20, 2011 in Blog by Glen

Predictive Policing

What would happen if we could predict crime before it happened?

The hottest buzz phrase in law enforcement right now is, “Predictive Policing.”  Ever since these words came out of Bill Brattons’ mouth while he testified in front of Congress on September 24, 2009 we have seen a great deal of interest in this idea.  While the idea is not entirely new and the definition is still being worked over the positive aspect of all of this discussion is that police departments are more and more realizing that they can have a huge impact on crime.

It was only recently that we were collectively throwing our hands up into the air and blaming high crime rates on things like poverty, poor education and the erosion of family values. While all of these things may contribute to crime, crime still comes down to having a victim, an offender and an opportunity.  Now we are looking at the very real possibility of a paradigm shift in law enforcement whereby all police and community leaders start applying analysis and crime prevention strategies to the problems of crime. With predictive policing we are looking at the three components of the crime triangle. We are applying analytical techniques to learn about where victims are and when they are being victimized; where and when the opportunities are occurring and we are deeply studying the habits of our offenders, both known and unknown.

The fact is that we can make calculated predictions on when and where crime will happen and who has a higher chance of being a victim.  With this information we can develop strategies to keep the three components of the crime triangle from coming together and make sure less people suffer.

I predict that Predictive Policing will become a normal part of even the smallest law enforcement agencies well into the future.

How does Open Source Policing fit into this future? Open Source software will provide free or affordable analytical tools to smaller departments so they can hop on the bandwagon. Free Web 2.0 technology will provide channels to share data between departments and to train practitioners in the techniques of analysis and crime prevention. This free technology will also allow police to educate the public and to allow everyone and anyone to see where and when crime is happening.  Finally, the public’s fears of a “Minority Report” type agency arresting people before they commit crimes can be put at ease with education, transparency and openness.

There is a lot going on in Predictive Policing right now and this is an exciting time in law enforcement. Notice the links to Web 2.0 sites on the DOJ website: USDOJ Blog entry on Predictive Policing


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by Glen


January 1, 2010 in Blog by Glen

Better Policing Through Collaboration

Open Source Policing

Who, what, where, when, why, how?

I am a police lieutenant in a town in Massachusetts.  I am not a college professor or a philosopher and I have never published a book.  I have nothing to sell but I have an idea that I want to share.  The idea is called Open Source Policing.

Open Source Policing involves the gathering and distribution of free educational resources, training materials, software, intelligence resources and law enforcement information to local police agencies,police officers and the general public.

It seems that a lot of what drives modern policing in the United States is funding.  The best examples that we saw of this were during the hay days of the Community Policing Movement in the 90′s and then the Post 9/11 era focus on Homeland Security.  Due to the recent recession we are now entering an era of making due with less.  Our local government budgets are being slashed, our state governments are in a financial free fall and the federal funds aren’t exactly pouring in.

Quality policing costs a lot of money and cutting quality in law enforcement is just not a good idea.  Police need to keep up to date with the latest training, techniques and technology.  There is also a constant need to build inroads into communities and to improve communications and interoperability with other agencies.  If you want a proactive police department that does all of these things efficiently with the latest technology you will find a lot of high-priced vendors out there who are very happy to take lots of your money.  Open Source Policing can provide free solutions to address the needs of a modern police department that doesn’t have the resources to throw money at every problem.

Open Source Policing comes from the ideas behind the Open Source Software movement, the Open Content movement as well as the ideas behind Open Source Governance.  Open Source Policing is actually a pretty simple idea and many resources are already available to us.  I hope this site is used by many to spread and build upon this idea and make policing better for everyone.

I hope that you find this useful and please feel free to share your ideas and contribute your own resources to help.

Thank you,

-Glen Mills
Open Source Policing