Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Still don't have the money to hire the pre-cogs

More police patrols don't necessarily prevent crime
The French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans, with the city’s tourist economy largely dependent on its success, and despite millions spent on trying to bring down crime in the quarter, a WWL-TV analysis shows over the past four years, overall crime has continued to climb.
They may help you do a better job of responding to and solving crimes. Because that is their actual job. But beyond notions of indirect "deterrent" or "broken windows" type effects - which we aren't really sure how to measure - prevention is not what you're paying for when you hire cops.

Confusion on that point leads us to a weird place and some highly questionable practices.
People call the task force through a mobile app developed by former trash mogul Sidney Torres.

“About 25 to 30 percent of what we deal with are app calls,” said Bob Simms, the manager of the French Quarter Task Force.

"It's a proactive response team that responds to information that comes through the app. They can backup officers when they hear calls coming in over the radio, but they're really a proactive team,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison.
Sidney's app is making quite an impact.  It's not doing anything to prevent crime in French Quarter, of course. But, in other cities, it is helping people more efficiently gentrify their neighborhoods
After hearing about the app’s implementation in New Orleans, Jim Whyte, the head of a St. Louis neighborhood security group that operates outside of city law enforcement, wants to pay the $1,200 subscription fee to adopt the technology and pressure police to crack down on “quality of life” issues, such as public urination or homeless people sleeping on the street. Many of those offenses aren’t technically crimes, and people who call 911 to report them may not be taken seriously.

Whyte offered an example in his neighborhood, in which a young woman called the police to report that a homeless person was standing in the lobby of her apartment building. “The dispatcher wanted to know if the homeless person was doing anything wrong, making the woman doubt herself about having called 911,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Whyte patrols a “transitional” neighborhood filled with “students, visitors, foreign exchange students” and the Washington University Medical School, and says permanent residents want a way to report suspicious people.
If you see something, say something. Say it into your phone and someone will come and remove the offense. 
Last year, the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. was slammed for an app that effectively reported innocent black people to police, simply because they didn’t look like they belonged in the predominately white, upper-class community. Operation GroupMe was developed for residents and businesses to report suspicious activity to law enforcement in real time, but African Americans accounted for 70 percent of the suspects. Comparable platforms, including SketchFactor in New York and Nextdoor.com in Oakland, California, were also used to racially profile black people.
So thanks, Sidney Torres, for your visionary entrepreneurship in the field of.. well.. not crime prevention, but harassing people.  Do you have something we can use to report suspicious math on planes?  

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