Can software that predicts crime pass constitutional muster?

Brantingham and his colleagues are now selling the predictive system to police departments . At this point, you may be thinking about the sci-fi movie . But this is different. No psychics sleeping in bathtubs, for one. More to the point, this doesn’t predict who will commit a future crime, just where it is likely to happen.

In Seattle, police Sgt. Christi Robbin zooms in on a map of the city. Earlier this year, Seattle started using PredPol to predict property crimes. It’s now the first place to try predicting gun violence with the software.

“These red boxes [on the map] are predictions of where the next crimes are likely to occur,” Robbin explains.

At the start of every shift, patrol cops are assigned to those red boxes. “So we’re asking that they spent the time in that 500-by-500-square-foot box, doing whatever proactive work they can to prevent that crime,” Robbin says.