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Predictive policing no longer just science fiction

In 2002, Minority Report made it to the big screen with Tom Cruise as the main star. In the movie, police officers were able to predict crime and arrest the person responsible before they committed the act. In 2015, Business Insider reported that some police departments in metropolitan cities, like Nashville Tennessee, now planned to follow a similar premise for real life crime fighting. They would do so by relying on data mining to prevent violent crime.

Predictive policing relies on algorithms to identify potential offenders. It may also help to locate when a crime may occur, who the likely victims are and where it may take place. In Kansas City, where predictive policing is widely used, there was a significant decline in the crime rate. However, it is not yet clear whether or not this futuristic type of policing is the main or only cause of this.

Critics of the system may point out that it could lead to the profiling of certain types of people, or over-policing of certain areas. This may instill fear rather than a feeling of safety in the residents. As the old cliché goes, if you look for something, there is a high chance of finding it.

One Tennessee lawmaker proposed her own beliefs about factors that led to people committing crimes, particularly school shootings. According to CNN, she believed that the breakdown in family values, the prevalence of violent movies and mental illness were root causes. She also cited the easy access to pornography for youngsters who viewed and internalized these materials without parental guidance.

Critics of the lawmaker wondered why she missed the opportunity to mention other magazines that perhaps had a greater impact, such as those that glorify guns. Maybe the algorithms used in Nashville could provide bipartisan insight into the predictive factors of a potential school shooter in Tennessee.

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