A computer algorithm which has helped LA police reduce the local crime rate by as much as 25%, by predicting where and when offences are most likely to take place, is raising fears in the US that civil liberties could be infringed.
Policing in the city has been transformed by the technique which sees officers given a series of 500ft x 500ft “boxes” throughout the city where crime is deemed most likely to occur that day.
Officers then put on a show of force in the target zones cruising around the streets seeking to identify any potential suspects such as lone predatory males, groups of youths, or gang members.
Andrew Ferguson, an assistant professor of Law at the University of the District of Colombia, said: “What happens if officers turn up at a 500ft x 500ft area, on the look out for burglaries, see a guy with a black bag, search him and find it contains stolen goods?
“If that case goes to court, there will be the question of whether it was reasonable for the officer to suspect he was committing a crime."