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Intelligence Based Software Helps Police Predict Crimes

"So what it does, it allows our officers, gives them an edge that they hadn't had in the past to know where the best place is to be when they have the time to patrol those areas," said Chief Mark Holtzman, Hagerstown Police Department.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - With a few clicks of the keyboard, years of crime data and a mathematical algorithm, police are working to predict crime before it happens.

"So what it does, it allows our officers, gives them an edge that they hadn't had in the past to know where the best place is to be when they have the time to patrol those areas," said Chief Mark Holtzman, Hagerstown Police Department. 

It's an intelligence based software called PredPol that uses of years of crime analysis, from the type of crime, where it happened and what time it happened, to predict where similar crimes could occur throughout the city.

This is how PredPol works. Based on the math and science, police said if officers spend about 15 minutes every two hours during their 12 hour shift in one of three prediction boxes that should help reduce crime and even prevent it.

"The nice thing about this, PredPol prediction analysis is all you have to do is be visible. The officers aren't tasked with going in and making an arrest. It's not about catching someone committing a crime. It's about preventing it from happening in the first place," said Captain Paul Kifer, Hagerstown Police Department.

PredPol tracks five types of crime: burglary, robbery, vehicle theft, theft from vehicles and gun crime.

"We wanted to have something that would help us in the prediction of gun violence," said Captain Kifer. "All the other crimes are just as equally important but gun violence is the one that scares people the most. It's the most harmful to everyone and that's the one we really wanted to address."

The system also helps younger officers who are still learning the city and crime trends.

"We have a younger work force now, all police departments are experiencing that so predicted policing I think is a model that we'll use here in Hagerstown and other departments, I think you'll see picking up on the trend, giving a younger officer an advantage on the street that an older officer may already have," said Chief Holtzman.

Another tool police hope will reduce crimes and the victims affected by them.

Police are still in the trial phase of using PredPol but they said the system is working and it has predicted when and where some crimes were expected to happened.

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