Reading, Pa., is adopting a new, innovatie policing model. The Berks County city of 88,000 is partnering with PredPol, a Silicon Valley-based company on the Predictive Policing Technology. Reading Police Chief William Heim said after learning about the technology at a conference he decided to implement it because, “it seemed to be the next step in crime mapping.”
Heim said the software does not replace talented, experienced officers, but it does help them do their jobs. “We’re concentrating on property crimes particularly burglaries so that’s a crime that really impacts our citizens and we have unfortunately enough of them that we think that PredPol will be effective in letting us know where they may occur in the future and stopping the crime.” Heim said the problem is, that mapping only tracks crimes that already happened. “PredPol has created a software program that takes past data and criminal behavior and translates them into the areas where the next crimes are likely to occur.”
The program is paid for by a federal grant and costs $3,500 to implement and $17,500 a year. Reading’s been using the crime prediction technology for about a month and officers already have discovered a car theft and a burglary in progress by patrolling areas where crime was predicted to occur. Heim says he’s thankful for any additional tools.
Zach Friend, a former crime analyst with the Santa Cruz Police Department, developed the model for PredPol. “There’s something very futuristic about it but something very beautiful about being able to see through advanced mathematics and anthropological research that you can predict crime patterns and you can allocate resources more effectively.”
Reading is the first city in the Northeast to deploy the crime-predicting technology.