A pioneer in predictive policing is starting a troubling new project

Ali Winston and Ingrid Burrington:

Jeff Brantingham is as close as it gets to putting a face on the controversial practice of “predictive policing.” Over the past decade, the University of California-Los Angeles anthropology professor adapted his Pentagon-funded research in forecasting battlefield casualties in Iraq to predicting crime for American police departments, patenting his research and founding a for-profit company named PredPol, LLC.

PredPol quickly became one of the market leaders in the nascent field of crime prediction around 2012, but also came under fire from activists and civil libertarians who argued the firm provided a sort of “tech-washing” for racially biased, ineffective policing methods.

Now, Brantingham is using military research funding for another tech and policing collaboration with potentially damaging repercussions: using machine learning, the Los Angeles Police Department’s criminal data, and an outdated gang territory map to automate the classification of “gang-related” crimes.