Police in Portland, Maine are using statistical crime trends to predict when and where crime might occur. For example, they dispatch extra officers to the entertainment district before the bars close; they expect to calm the drunk and disorderly conduct by displaying a strong presence. Police in Portland are trying to be more preemptive in stopping crime rather than only showing up after the crime has been committed.
The new program is called predictive policing and Portland is one of the first cities in Maine to adopt the techniques. The city of Santa Cruz, California, is similarly sized and they have employed this style of policing since 2011. Santa Cruz has enjoyed success with these techniques, particularly, a nearly 20% drop in home invasions after less than a year using predictive policing. Their achievement got the attention of agencies throughout the nation. Using statistics to predict the general areas crime will occur is one of the latest trends in law enforcement.
Agencies have several different software options available to help them predict when and where new crimes will occur and what types. Different crimes depend on seasons, months, days of the week, and time of the day or night. All of these statistics and variables can be difficult to keep track of, so the use of software will help more agencies to implement these practices.
Predictive policing banks on the fact that criminals tend to return to areas that they are comfortable with and perpetrating the same type of crime over and over until they are caught. The faster police can catch them by learning their patterns, the safer the community will be.