Well this is a tad scary. Helpful? Maybe. Intrusive? Most definitely. But racist? That’s a serious question people are asking about Chicago PD’s predictive analytics program and the tactics they’re taking. Critics are saying this is just an elaborate racial profiling scheme. Are they right?
Chicago PD maintains an index of the roughly 400 people in the city of Chicago supposedly most likely to be involved in violent crime. Inspired by a Yale sociologist’s studies and compiled using an algorithm created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the heat list is just one example of the experiments the CPD is conducting as it attempts to push policing into the 21st century.
In 2009, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) made millions of dollars in grants available for any police department with a burgeoning predictive program. Police all over the country applied to tap into those NIJ dollars. The big winner was Chicago; its combination of headline-making homicide rates and already established data- and tech-focused policing made it a perfect fit. The CPD received more than $2 million to test two phases of its experimental program.
Transparency seems to be lacking as who is on the list and why aren’t fully disclosed. I’m sure that’s not accidental for a number of reason – privacy and security among them. Joan LaRocca, a press liaison for the NIJ, explains in an email: “These are persons who the model has determined are those most likely to be involved in a shooting or homicide, with probabilities that are hundreds of times that of an ordinary citizen.”