- The Washington Times
Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Chicago Police Department is funding an idea straight out of the Hollywood movie “Minority Report”: predicting crime.

“This [program] will become a national best practice,” CPD Cmdr. Jonathan Lewin told The Verge. “This will inform police departments around the country and around the world on how best to utilize predictive policing to solve problems. This is about saving lives.”

While better predictive analytical systems have long-been sought after by law enforcement agencies, it was the CPD that most embraced the concept, The Verge said. After taking in more than $2 million in grants from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in 2009, the stage was set for its program to really move forward in 2013.

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With its funding in place, CPD enlisted Miles Wernick, Motorola professor and director of the Medical Imaging Research Center at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, The Verge reported. The end result was an algorithm that would give law enforcement a list of names of those who “clearly have a high likelihood of being involved in violence.” The program even resulted in the creation of CPD’s “400 most dangerous people” list.

“It’s not just shooting somebody, or being shot,” he told the Verge. “It has to do with the person’s relationships to other violent people.”

The program’s advocates do not believe it infringes upon privacy rights. They told The Verge that most of the information used in the program comes from existing criminal records, unlike recent NSA spying revelations that the agency obtained phone records and other personal information from Americans with no criminal record.

The Verge filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CPD to obtain its list with the intention of alleviating fears that unjustly targeting minorities, among other questions, but were denied due to safety concerns for CPD personnel.

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