Seattle Police begin using software to predict crimes citywide

by: David Ham Updated:

SEATTLE —

Starting on Sunday, Seattle police officers across the city will begin using data-driven software to predict where the next property crimes will happen.

"It generates a prediction of where crime is likely to occur in the future that's about twice as effective as a human data analyst," said Mayor Mike McGinn.

SPD has been using the software in a pilot program in two precincts since earlier this year.

Now it will be used by officers in all four precincts.

The predictions are generated with an algorithm, the way earthquakes are predicted.

SPD will use crime data going back to 2008 for the crime maps. The forecast is based on the type, location and time of a crime.

McGinn says the better the data, the better the prediction.

"Report every crime, no matter how small," said McGinn.

Despite the call for more police calls, people like Anthony Reynega think police should do a better job of responding to existing calls.

"I think that would make more sense than where the next crime is gonna happen," said Reynega.

He called 911 a few months ago when he heard shots fired in the Central District. He said police never responded.

Sage Khoury said he had a similar experience when he worked at Jimmy Johns and said a woman walked in with a knife.

"I'm kinda telling the cops lik  'hurry up we're on 3rd and Seneca,'" Khoury said police responded but believes the response was delayed.

"Every call is responded to, okay. We prioritize our calls based on the severity of the incident," said Deputy Chief Nick Metz.

Metz believes the new software and data will help police with faster responses in the future.

We asked SPD if there are any statistics of how effective the software has been in its pilot program.

"It's not the battle, it's the war. So it's a little early, it's a little premature so we need to give it a little more time," said Sgt. Christi Robbin