Prof. Andrew Ferguson in Charleston City Paper on Predictive Policing
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
Professor Andrew Ferguson's Emory Law Journal article on predictive policing formed the basis for an article in the Charleston City Paper describing the implementation of predictive policing in Charleston, S.C.
Predictive policing is a new law enforcement strategy to reduce crime by predicting criminal activity before it happens. Using sophisticated computer algorithms to forecast future events from past crime patterns, predictive policing has become the centerpiece of a new smart-policing strategy in several major cities. The initial results have been successful in reducing crime while raising several Fourth Amendment issues.
"I think what you would say is the worst case — and I don't even think this is that far-fetched — is that there will be a case where someone gets stopped on a street corner for suspicion of burglary," Ferguson says. "It'll go before a court, and they'll say, 'OK, officer, what was your reasonable suspicion for stopping this person?' And he'll say, 'The computer told me,' essentially, right? 'The computer said look out for burglaries, I saw this guy in the location, so I stopped him because he looked like a burglar.' And race, class, all of those things obviously are a part of it. And the judge will then just defer ... How are you going to cross-examine the computer?
Ferguson's concerns about predictive policing are twofold. One is that
the new crime-fighting tool will be used dishonestly, with officers
misapplying data to run minorities out of neighborhoods or to question
people without a good reason. His other concern, the one he focuses on
in his paper, is that computer-generated crime forecasts will lower the
threshold for reasonable suspicion, leading to increased racial and
class profiling as well as a rash of pat-downs and arrests that
otherwise would have been perceived as unwarranted."
Read the full article in the Charleston City Paper, "Predictive policing arrives in Charleston"
Professor Andrew Ferguson teaches and writes in the area of criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence. Read his full bio here.