Prof. Andrew Ferguson Quoted in Associated Press on Predictive Policing
Monday, July 2, 2012
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
Professor Andrew Ferguson was quoted extensively in an Associated Press article on predictive policing. 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.
Ferguson said the trend is "a seductive idea" for law enforcement agencies that carry a lot of power. He believes the LAPD has done a good job with the data but he's concerned that other departments could abuse the process with racial profiling or stereotyping a neighborhood or an area.
"There are real pressures to expand this nationally and see it succeed," Ferguson said. "I think it's an important innovation. But like any innovation, it's not foolproof, and looking closely at the data is important to ensure it doesn't harm the civil liberties of the people living in those areas."
Ferguson said he envisions a legal challenge at some point. He used an example of an officer patrolling a predicted area of burglary and who sees a man carrying a bag and detains the man because he looks suspicious.
"Alone, a man carrying a bag is not reasonable suspicion," Ferguson explained. "But in court, the officer will say, 'The computer told me to go there.' For the lawyer or the court, what are you going to do with this information? You can't cross-examine a computer."
Read the full article in the Associated Press, "Sci-fi Policing: Predicting Crime Before it Occurs"
Professor Andrew Ferguson teaches and writes in the area of criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence. Read his full bio here.