Inside Obama’s Plan to Use Open Data to Curb Police Brutality

July 13, 2017 | Author: Gökhan Çalışkan | Category: Police Brutality, Violence, Police, Crimes, Politics
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Inside Obama’s Plan to Use Open Data to Curb Police Brutality...






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Tension instead of trust Camden, New Jersey, isn’t where you might expect to find the future of policing emerging. It was renowned as one of the most violent cities in the US for decades. Two years ago, struggling with crime and running out of money, the city scrapped its police department entirely. But now Camden is at the centre of an ambitious new scheme. The White House launched the Police Data Initiative there this week, tasking Camden and 20 other US cities with using data analysis to understand and change police behaviour in an attempt to heal the broken relationship between them and the public. The move follows a wave of police brutality in the US (see “A year of violence”, below) and the establishment of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, formed by Obama in December. The first report from the task force, published this week, stressed the importance of collecting, sharing and scrutinising such data. It recommended examining department policies, incidents of alleged misconduct, recent stops and arrests and the demographics of officers. Analysing the data, the authors write, is vital “to knowing what works and what does not work, which policing practices are effective and which ones have unintended consequences”. Some police departments are already putting their data to work. This summer, the University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good programme will start building an early warning system for local police departments. The algorithm will scour police data and pick out problematic officers, tagging them for further training or intervention. Similar systems exist in other parts of the country, but the White House warns that those may not be effective, because there has been little research into which factors most strongly predict a problem. The Chicago pilot will be grounded in such research. Proactive approach Rayid Ghani, who heads up the Data Science for Social Good programme, says systems like this can help prevent problems from happening. “It really changes the way a lot of government agencies work. Today, they’re purely reactive, but now they can be much more proactive,” he says. Strategies such as predictive policing already use data analytics to try to prevent crime. Now, those same techniques are being applied to the police themselves, trying to pre-empt the possibility of brutality.


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Inside Obama’s plan to use open data to curb police brutality On-body cameras may provide a rich source of data. The cameras, which have been shown to reduce the use of force and the number of complaints from citizens, have been adopted by about one-third of police departments across the country. The Department of Justice now plans to spend $20 million on acquiring more. In Oakland, where officers have been required to wear cameras for the past four years, researchers at Stanford University are developing tools that can automatically detect positive or negative interactions from the audio in a recording. It’s clear that the potential is great, but there’s a long road ahead. William Terrill of Michigan State University in East Lansing sees a parallel with community policing, an approach that attracted attention after the civil unrest of the late 1960s. While the idea was warmly discussed, he says, there is marginal evidence that it was ever implemented effectively. A few decades down the road, we could be saying the same about these data-driven strategies. “Police departments are good at making reactionary policies in times of crisis, but not making substantive changes,” Ghani says. “My greater fear is that things will calm down and police departments will go back to the same old, same old.” Understanding the community To address that problem, cities involved in the Police Data Initiative have promised to release statistics about hot-button topics like vehicle stops and officerinvolved shootings. And non-profit Code for America is building software to make it easier for agencies to open up. The idea is that the community, rather than the police themselves, can analyse that data and hold the officers accountable for their actions. “People want to know and understand what’s happening in their own communities. They actually want to see the data, to be able to analyse it in their own ways,” says Robin Engel of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. This isn’t the only aspect of policing that needs overhauling. Terrill says the Obama initiative may encourage a long overdue record-keeping upgrade. A typical police department’s data is disorganised, with separate systems to track things like 911 calls, internal affairs and officer training. This disorganisation means that there is no common metric to compare different police departments, and it can be difficult or impossible to measure performance in areas like reducing use of force.


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Inside Obama’s plan to use open data to curb police brutality The ability to compare the performance of different police departments is crucial because it incentivises change and improvement. Terrill says the picture would look very different if existing US police departments operated in a more competitive, transparent environment: “They would have gone out of business years ago.”


s. ilişkili, karışık open up açmak, deşmek accountable for hesabı sorulabilir aspect i. görünüş, görünüm overdue s. geç kalmış, rötarlı track f. izlemek, takip etmek internal affairs içişleri metric s. metrik, metre sistemine göre use of force güç kullanımı ability i. yetenek, kabiliyet crucial s. çok önemli, kritik incentivise (Brit.) f. (Britanya İngilizcesi) teşvik etmek competitive s. yarışmaya dayanan transparent s. şeffaf, saydam

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