More and more police departments are turning to predictive analytics software to assess past data to predict future occurrences. Police in Richmond, Va., for example, use software from SPSS to find trends in car thefts and other crimes.

According to Richmond Police Chief Rodney Monroe, more car thefts are likely to occur during ice skating shows rather than monster truck shows or rap concerts. This is because more valuables are left behind in the car by parents during those events.

The software has also helped Richmond police determine that more robberies occur on paydays near stores where people cash their checks, and that most victims of these robberies tend to be Hispanic, says Monroe. In addition, the technology is used to set objectives for officers who oversee particular sections of the city, he says.

Monroe reveals that each district in the city now sees no more than 14 robberies per month, compared to about 20 robberies per month in the past.

The software also helped police see that "our data showed a lot of nighttime robberies along one strip near the convention center," prompting the addition of more lighting to that area, notes Monroe.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Chicago Tribune (11/13/06) ; P. CN6; Van, Jon.