New police strategy predicts where crime will occur - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New police strategy predicts where crime will occur before it happens

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A woman calls 911 to report suspicious activity on her street, and seconds later, police are making three arrests. The officers didn't fly there at the speed of light, they were already waiting in the neighborhood because they predicted that a crime would take place at that approximate time and location.  

It's not science fiction, it's a situation that happened on Irwin Way in Columbus just last week, and police are hoping to continue making arrests like this from now on. In the 2002 movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise, police departments in the distant future use psychics to predict crimes and stop them before they occur.  

As criminal intelligence officer Sergeant Roderick Graham explained, it doesn't take a psychic to make these predictions.

"We started out with a test run of this probably about a year and a half ago to see how it will work out, and then we have escalated to the point of using the information and passing it on to a squad of four and they have been utilizing the information to go out and make arrests in areas that we have identified as having criminal activity that needs to be addressed," said Sgt. Graham.

But it's more complicated than just keeping more police in the problem areas, it combines painstaking analysis of crime statistics while keeping a special eye on known individuals who are most likely to cause trouble.

"In the past, typically what they would do is just ride around and patrol randomly. But with this particular method, we use more of a direct focus," said Sgt. Graham. "We're taking the information that we have analyzed and determine where we need to be at that given time of the day. And then, the officers act off that information and go in that area, and they already have been equipped with information about who the offenders possibly are in that area."

The new strategy helps police determine in advance not only the specific people who they may be looking for, but also which offense they are most likely to commit. These officers are not undercover. They are out in the public for everyone to see, but they operate like special agents.

So far, the plan appears to be working. In the past six weeks, police have netted some big arrests- most notably a seizure of about 700 grams of synthetic marijuana. Elsewhere in the country, law enforcement has been doing this for decades and they've also seen positive change.

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