Police in Washington Town Set to Roll Out Federally-funded Crime Prediction Program

Mikael Thalen


Police in Tacoma, Wash. will soon be receiving federally-funded cloud-based crime prediction software known as PREDPOL, short for predictive policing.

The program consists of a mathematical algorithm similar to the one used to predict earthquakes that will use five years’ worth of past crime data and sociological information about criminal behavior to predict where and when a future crime will likely take place, down to a 500-square-foot area.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, a six-month survey of the software produced a 36 percent drop in burglaries in the Foothill Division. PREDPOL is now in talks with police about purchasing the software in over 200 cities worldwide. The software creators point to decreasing budgets and police staff as the main reason behind the interest in the program.

Civil liberties advocates immediately questioned if the software would conflict with citizens’ privacy and whether or not the program would begin collecting data on specific individuals. “We have no plans to move anywhere close to the individual. You’ll – rightly – run into a variety of Constitutional problems almost immediately,” said PREDPOL’s Director of Government Relations and Strategy Ryan Coonerty.

This system is only one of many crime prevention programs being dropped on the state of Washington.

The Seattle Police Department recently received a $5 million federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security to install 30 surveillance cameras on Seattle’s popular waterfront area. The police say the cameras are needed to safeguard the Port of Seattle from sabotage or terrorist attacks. Despite these claims, some cameras were caught pointing inward, not towards the coast line after initially being installed. Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh claimed the incident was a mistake.

In light of Seattle’s secret participation in a pilot program for TrapWire, a CCTV surveillance system that recognizes people from their face or walk, funded by the DHS as well, the possibility of these camera’s being used to compile data on individuals is very possible.

In fact, a recently discovered Seattle Police diagram appears to show that the SPD Headquarters, Fusion Center MMIS (Department of Homeland Security), Coast Guard, SPD Harbor Patrol, Seattle Fire Department Headquarters and SFD Marshall have the ability to control and receive certain video feeds within the city. Some believe the diagram reveals that Seattle Police officers can use the cameras’ panning and zooming features directly from their squad cars.

The state has however won some battles on the surveillance front. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was forced to end the police drone program after outraged residents spoke out. New legislation has even been introduced to control how, when and why drones are used within the state. McGinn has also reportedly ended the city’s plan to install as many as 52 mobile gunshot locator microphone/video units.

An anarchist group in Washington has recently gone as far as removing and destroying up to 17 cameras in response to the increased surveillance.

Pre-crime technology such as “lie-detecting camera’s” are also set to be used in airport interrogations as well as DHS-funded talking street lights that shout orders to pedestrians as well as record conversations.

Mikael’s article first appeared on Examiner.com.