The report, entitled “Stuck in a Pattern: Early Evidence on Predictive Policing and Civil Rights” reveals a number of issues both with the technology and its adoption:
- Lack of transparency about how the systems work
- Concerns about the reliance on historical crime data, which may perpetuate inequities in policing rather than provide an objective base for analysis
- Over-confidence on the part of law enforcement and courts on the accuracy, objectivity and reliability of information produced by the system
- Aggressive enforcement as a result of (over) confidence in the data produced by the system
- Lack of audit or outcome measures tracking in order to assess system performance and reliability
The report notes that they surveyed the 50 largest police forces in the USA and ascertained that at least 20 of them were using a “predictive policing system” and another 11 actively exploring options to do so. In addition, they note that “some sources indicate that 150 or more departments may be moving toward these systems with pilots, tests, or new deployments.”
Concurrent with the release of the report, a number of privacy, technology and civil rights organizations released a statement setting forth the following arguments (and expanding upon them).
- A lack of transparency about predictive policing systems prevents a meaningful, well-informed public debate.
- Predictive policing systems ignore community needs.
- Predictive policing systems threaten to undermine the constitutional rights of individuals
- Predictive policing systems are primarily used to intensify enforcement rather than to meet human needs
- Police could use predictive tools to identify which officers might engage in misconduct, but most departments have not done so
- Predictive policing systems are failing to monitor their racial impact.
Signatories of the statement included:
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
18 Million Rising
American Civil Liberties Union
Brennan Center for Justice
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Media Justice
Color of Change
Data & Society Research Institute
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Media Mobilizing Project
National Hispanic Media Coalition
Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative)
Open Technology Institute at New America