US city utilizes advanced know-how to prevent crime with encouraging results

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-8-13 9:30:01

A medium-sized city in southern California has successfully reduced the crime rates during the first six months of this year thanks to the adoption of a sophisticated technology, local officials said Monday.

Alhambra, an independent city with a population of more than 80, 000, was the first in southern California to utilize Predictive Policing (PredPol), a cutting-edge technology across its police department, a move which has bore positive results, according to city police chief Mark Yokoyama.

"PredPol does not replace the experience and intuition of our great officers, but is rather an invaluable added tool that allows our police force to use their patrol time more efficiently and helps stop crime before it happens," he said at a briefing with local Chinese-language media. "This technology offers an excellent crime-fighting solution that will ultimately make Alhambra safer."

The city, situated in the western San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County which has faced with a trend in rising crime, has seen the rate of residential burglary and other major crimes significantly dropped six months after it launched the project in January, 2013, aiming at adding the technology to the police arsenal of crime fighting strategies in an effort to be proactive in addressing crime issues.

Armed with the advanced technology which predicts or forecasts future crimes, an Alhambra officer can patrol an identified area for car burglaries and find a car burglary in progress, which led to an immediate arrest, authorities said.

The police department can also find crimes occurring in the identified areas as had been forecasted, thereby validating the predictions and have also made associated arrests for other crimes while in the forecasted areas, Yokoyama said.

Three most common crimes including car theft, theft from vehicles and auto burglary have gone down by 7 percent, 20 percent and 32 percent, respectively, according to Yokoyama.

Residential burglary also dropped by 2 percent from late last year, he said.

"PredPol technology gives officers the best chance to be in the right place, at the right time, to stop crime before it occurs while at the same time helping to reduce crime, cut costs, and increase accuracy when officers patrol their beats," the veteran police officer said.

PredPol, a software program which was developed over a period of six years by police officers, mathematicians, criminologists and anthropologists, based itself on previous crime reports including the time and location of a crime, and drew upon from sociological studies of criminal behavior including the insight that burglars often ply the same area.

The software program looks at burglaries and car thefts and other crimes in a similar manner as predicting aftershocks from an earthquake, Yokoyama said.

Alhambra has registered some 430 cases during the latter half of 2012, according to statistics provided by the police.

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