Milpitas Police Depart-ment hopes new technology bordering on that often seen in science-fiction cop shows will thwart crime here.
Milpitas City Council voted unanimously Sept. 3 to authorize the city manager to execute a three-year, $37,000 contract agreement with PredPol Inc. for so-called predictive policing software that uses mathematics, social science and probability to geographically pinpoint and ultimately reduce crime.
"It's brand new," Milpitas Police Chief Steve Pange-linan said after the meeting. "We haven't installed it yet; we're still doing the technical side of things."
Saying it will likely be up and running sometime next month, Pangelinan asserted PredPol's web-based algorithmic software that calculates for historic crime trends, demographics and even weather intends to deploy officers in areas that experience the most crime. He added the predictive technology has the ability to locate crime to an area as small as 500 feet by 500 feet.
"In total, it will hopefully reduce crime," Pangelinan said.
PredPol's website states its tool was developed over the course of six years by a team of mathematicians and social scientists at the University of California at Los Angles, Santa Clara University and University of California at Irvine in close collaboration with crime analysts and line-level officers at the Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police departments.
PredPol states the mission for its software is simple: place officers at the right time and location to give them the best chance of preventing crime.
Besides Milpitas, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police departments who helped develop the program are already using it in the field.
"From what I understand LA has had good results," Pangelinan said, adding it proved effective in the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill Division. "They saw a dramatic decline in burglaries after its use."
PredPol's website asserts in "Los Angeles' Foothill Division, crimes were down 13 percent in the four months following the rollout compared to an increase of 0.4 percent in the rest of the city where the rollout had not happened."
According to a July 2012 Associated Press story on the new technology, Los Angeles Police DepartmentÊis the largest agency to embrace "predictive policing."Ê
"In the San Fernando Valley, where the program was launched late last year, officers are seeing double-digit drops in burglaries and other property crimes," the Associated Press story states. "The program has turned enough in-house skeptics into believers that there are plans to roll it out citywide by nextÊsummer."
"Time" Magazine called the predictive policing software one of the best inventions ofÊ2011.
In Milpitas, Pangelinan said he would like to see the program tackle this city's most prevalent illegal activities residential burglaries and auto thefts.
"I can envision right off the bat that we strategically target these types of crimes," Pangelinan said.
But Milpitas' police chief is not yet sold on the new invention wanting to take a wait-and-see approach on its crime-fighting effectiveness. He notes the vendor's contract can also be canceled at the end of the first year, with a 90-day notice.
"If we're not satisfied with its performance we can get out of the contract," Pangelinan said.
He added the software's first year subscription fee $12,500 per year or $37,500 over three years is being paid for via the state's 2013 Citizen Options for Public Safety funds.
"We're funding this entirely through COPS grant fundingÉwe're not using any general fund money," Pangelinan said.
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