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Police Data-Mining Done Right 321

Posted by Zonk
from the way-its-supposed-to-be-used dept.
enharmonix writes "Courtesy of Bruce Schneier, it's nice to hear something good about data mining for a change: predicting and stopping crime. For example, police in Redmond, VA, 'started overlaying crime reports with other data, such as weather, traffic, sports events and paydays for large employers. The data was analyzed three times a day and something interesting emerged: Robberies spiked on paydays near cheque cashing storefronts in specific neighbourhoods. Other clusters also became apparent, and pretty soon police were deploying resources in advance and predicting where crime was most likely to occur.'"
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Police Data-Mining Done Right

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  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:34PM (#20187135) Homepage Journal
    "I'm losing my nerve," Benny said mournfully. "Six times this past year we've flicked into flash crowds, and three times I threw away everything I had because it looked like the cops had time to put us under riot control. Once I was right. Twice I was wrong. That's just not good enough." He braced himself. "I think I'll quit." There, he'd said it.

    A hole in space. [amazon.com] Larry Niven.

    Are the police going to share the location information?
    I might want to watch. Cops live!
  • by Treskin (555947) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:37PM (#20187183)
    Do they really need to spend thousands of dollars analyzing data to determine there's more crime around check-cashing stores on paydays?
    • by GregPK (991973) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:40PM (#20187243)
      I think thats just one thing that showed up on the radar. Something that someone may intuitively know may not be listened to by others without data to back it up. Things like they don't need to enforce traffic as much during foggy days because traffic is going slower already.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pnutjam (523990)
        I wonder if it showed that drivers receive more citations toward the end of the month (when quotas are coming due...).
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          Why would they wait until the end of the month. They could just get them all out of the way in the first few days and then relax the rest of the month.
          • by raehl (609729)
            Because police procrastinate too?

            Although I wonder how many police departments really have monthly quotas. It seems that by the time you account for vacation, different duty assignments, etc, it wouldn't be worth the bother.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sumdumass (711423)
              I would agree with you normally. But then I see where they are more worried about catching a speeder then just doing something like clearing the branches of a tree that hides the reduced speed limit sign when coming into town so that anyone not familiar with the area cannot safely slow down after seeing the sign and before crossing it to end up speeding. Instead of putting a patrol car in areas with high speed traffic they are dressing up as law care workers and postmen to zapt them with a radar gun at the
        • I think you'll find (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)
          Many departments don't have quotas on tickets. They by and large don't need to. People violate traffic laws (speeding especially) ALL the time. So all you have to do is get cops that like to write tickets (bastards basically) and set them to work in areas that are a problem. You get loads of tickets.

          That's how it works here. You'll essentially never get a ticket for doing less than 10 over (except special cases like school zones and such) and there's no quotas at all. They just put the jerks, the people who
    • by heinousjay (683506) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:41PM (#20187265) Journal
      That was one example, probably selected because it doesn't give much away.

      Still, I have to congratulate you. This just wouldn't be Slashdot if we didn't get somebody denigrating the accomplishment. It's very gratifying to know that I post to the same board as so many people who can do everything with merely a stray thought, if they ever actually felt like getting around to it.
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:45PM (#20187327) Homepage
        This is a case of feeding cop experience into a database and using that for pattern matching. That begs the obvious question of why cops weren't doing this sort of pattern matching in their heads already. If I can figure out that payday (or the day after) is not the greatest day to be in the bank due to the sudden surge of activity, robbers should be able to do the same as well as the cops.

        What happened to hunches and intuition?

        The point of data mining to to find the NON-OBVIOUS relationships.

        There's even a data warehousing product named just that.
      • It also wouldn't be slashdot without the 'It wouldn't be slashdot ...' guy.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by ginbot462 (626023)
          Mod parent up!

          (p.s. It wouldn't be slashdot with out the "mod parent up" guy. Please follow with "moderation is busted" guy/gal...)
          • Okay (Score:3, Funny)

            by Descalzo (898339)
            Moderation is busted.

            The cops busted him outside a check cashing joint on payday.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Treskin (555947)
        Indeed, though still it seems the article is touting a major break through in crime prevention, but focuses on a point which should have been obvious to anyone. Certainly they can't disclose sensitive information, but there must have been a more gripping example somewhere in the study.
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          Maybe the thinking is that the cops finally got something obvious right so this is a major breakthrough?

          I think it is more than your willing to give credit for. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity and negligence. Few would be criminals act though with the crime if it is likely that they will be caught. It goes along the lines of locks only keep honest people out. Increasing patrols in the area is cheaper then going though the court system, housing a criminal and dealing out a punishment.

          I think that if yo
    • by Verteiron (224042)
      Why? Are you saying they should have just saved the money and asked you?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by solar_blitz (1088029)

      Do they really need to spend thousands of dollars analyzing data to determine there's more crime around check-cashing stores on paydays?

      I'm sure it also points out there's less crime around donut shops, too.

      Seriously, though, that example the article cited seems like the one most people are likely to understand. Perhaps the article writer is less inclined to mention the more sensitive things like drug trafficking locations. That would hamper an investigation, wouldn't it?

    • by garcia (6573) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:03PM (#20187591)
      Do they really need to spend thousands of dollars analyzing data to determine there's more crime around check-cashing stores on paydays?

      You know, when you get down to it, there's a lot of stuff that jumps out after the fact that says, "why the fuck didn't we notice that before?" But when you're doing the day to day work (in any field) you may ignore or not even know about what seems unbelievably obvious.

      Just because this particular piece of information was the most prevalent in the story does not mean it's the only thing to come out of the reporting and it's certainly not the last thing that will be. Give it time. Data-mining's best fruits come from long term studies of data using a variety of methods.
      • Happens to us too (Score:4, Insightful)

        by phorm (591458) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:57PM (#20188525) Journal
        Now for all those computer/techie types, how many bugs or problems/issues seemed remarkably simple after you noticed/fixed them? How many times have you slapped your head and said "geeze, that was really simple."

        Sometimes it just helps to have somebody checking up on your work, even if that "somebody" is an automated process or machine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by harrkev (623093)

      Do they really need to spend thousands of dollars analyzing data to determine there's more crime around check-cashing stores on paydays?
      Yes, they do. It sounds obvious, but WHOSE payday do you use. Some people get paid every Friday. Others get paid on the 1st and 15th. I get paid on the 6th and 21st. My last job paid me every other Friday. Social Security recipients get paid once a month (not sure of date). Which payday do you choose?
      • by sunking2 (521698)

        Well, it seems that the crooks have been able to figure it out without a computer. Or is it random chance that they all seem to show up when people get paid?

        Should we be proud that we've created a computer database that can predict how someone who probably has at most a high school education has figured out? And besides, are you telling me that the database knows how many people get paid on which days so was able to tell you when to be there? Of course not, the computer knows jack about when people get pai

        • by Lehk228 (705449)
          this isn't about outsmarting one illiterate piece of shit thug, this is about identifying the aggregate behavior of criminals in a given area in order to maximize the effectiveness of your enforcement.
      • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Descalzo (898339) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:36PM (#20188179) Journal

        I get paid on the 6th and 21st.

        Which check-cashing place do you go to?

      • > Which payday do you choose?

        Can I choose the 1st, 6th, 15th, 21st, and every other Friday?
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      That's nothing. They should look into the crime that occurs INSIDE the check cashing stores.
    • The reason is that cops are not allowed to profile ppl. As such, they would get busted. Now, they have proof as to WHY they should be there. Any court is going to say that the police force was simply being stationed where crimes were LIKELY to occur without regard to color, sex, etc. Keep in mind, that most of the check-cashing stores are NOT located at high-end shopping malls. They will be located in down-trodden areas.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:37PM (#20187199) Homepage Journal
    I don't really tend to think in terms of the police having the job of preventing crime. I think there job should be to apprehend criminals who are involved in or have committed a crime. That said, I guess it is good if they have tools that better help them to schedule and plan enforcement. Like anything, it can be taken too far. I would think that what would separate 'good' data mining from 'bad' data mining would be transparency and over site in the process.
     
    On a side note - I'm willing to bet that if someone had asked most street cops in that area - they wouldn't have needed software or data mining tools to tell you that cash checking places in bad parts of town, on pay days were areas of higher crime.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ari_j (90255) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:40PM (#20187255)
      Crime is best prevented by the fear of getting caught and punished. If police increase their presence in areas and at times where and when crimes are likely to occur, there will be a deterrent effect. However, that is only the unavoidable side effect. Cops aren't trying to prevent crimes - they are trying to better focus their resources to catch criminals. It just so happens that the former is a pleasant result of the latter.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Knuckles (8964) <`gro.naitnad' `ta' `selkcunk'> on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:48PM (#20187371)
        Crime is best prevented by the fear of getting caught and punished

        Says who? AFAICT, crime is best prevented by some minimum amount of personal freedom, reasonable living conditions regarding food, shelter, and education for all, along with some participation in matters of society.
        • by JDevers (83155)
          Actually, since you are being an ass...crime is best prevented by chips embedded in our skulls that detonate when either tampered with or when ever you think "bad thoughts." Ultimate prevention.

          Since neither that nor what you are proposing is very likely to happen, what the GP said is true. Having cops be at places where crime is likely is a good deterrent to crime.
          • by Knuckles (8964)
            Well, not ever country is the dangerous place the US has let itself become, despite the best economical chances.
          • by Knuckles (8964)
            Having cops be at places where crime is likely is a good deterrent to crime.

            No, it's useless as I said, since the crime will move elsewhere, just like teenagers that hang out in a mall.
        • by tompaulco (629533)
          In the U.S., we have all of those things, but people still choose to commit crimes. Crime would be almost excusable if it were out of necessity. Say, stealing a loaf of bread because your family is hungry, but at least in the United States, the hungry and homeless are not the ones doing the crime. Hungry people don't steal TVs, homeless people don't kill your for your shoes. Nobody is breaking into your refrigerator and stealing a gallon of milk. People are just lazy and choose to steal from people who work
          • A lot of crime in the US occurs because people are poisoned on the idea of being extremely wealthy.

            The idea of just working and living an average life seems like a kind of death to some people.

            They'd rather burn fast- get easy money- and die young than live a normal life.

            Some people are just more aggressive and/or greedy than others.

            Some people do nothing bad. I do some bad things . A lot of people do a lot of bad things that I don't.

      • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:51PM (#20187415)

        Crime is best prevented by the fear of getting caught and punished.

        Not really. Jail time and such has almost no effect on changing criminal behaviour.

        Cops aren't trying to prevent crimes - they are trying to better focus their resources to catch criminals.

        Possibly. Or maybe they are trying to prevent crimes.

        The criminals are not worried about going to jail AFTER the crime is committed. But if there is a cop there at the moment they would have committed the crime, most criminals will not commit it.

        Means
        Motive
        Opportunity

        With a cop right there, the "opportunity" is removed. So no crime occurs. In general, the crime rate should go down because this isn't something that can easily be displaced. It seems to be tied to the area around a check cashing storefront. Increase the patrols in those areas and the crimes are not committed.
        • Not really. Jail time and such has almost no effect on changing criminal behaviour.

          While the original statement (that crime is best prevented by a fear of getting caught and punished) is a bit suspect, this response doesn't really counter it. Jail time addresses recitivism rate, and as you pointed out, it doesn't do a very good job. But that doesn't address whether or not fear of punishment is an effective initial deterrent for much of the population--you're only saying that someone who ignores that initi

      • by Normal Dan (1053064) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:02PM (#20187585)

        Crime is best prevented by the fear of getting caught and punished.
        Actually, an even better way to prevent crime is to make sure everyone has a good job and a nice place to live and is content with life. People tend not to commit as many crimes when things are going well and they have too much to loose.

        imho
        • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:19PM (#20187847) Homepage

          Actually, an even better way to prevent crime is to make sure everyone has a good job and a nice place to live and is content with life. People tend not to commit as many crimes when things are going well and they have too much to loose.
          That's only true to an extent and only true for very specific crimes (ie. relatively low level theft). Not to mention one of the things you're listing there ("make sure everyone [...] is content with life") is flat out impossible. You can never have everyone content with life. There will always be inequity and jealousy and greed leading to criminal activity, and again this is only in relation to theft and crimes committed as a means to theft. Other crimes have any number of causes beyond a perceived need for comfort or contentment.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Xtravar (725372)

            You can never have everyone content with life. There will always be inequity and jealousy and greed leading to criminal activity, and again this is only in relation to theft and crimes committed as a means to theft. Other crimes have any number of causes beyond a perceived need for comfort or contentment.
            This sounds like a job for... drugs!!!!!

        • It's a nice thought but I think that argument would only work for a small subset of crimes, what about assaults, batteries, crimes of passion, rapes etc? For that mater what about Juvenile offends, they can live in a very nice house and want for nothing and will still commit crimes. Could be something stupid like graffiti or vandalism but as someone said above if the opportunity is not there then their is a good chance the crime won't happen.
        • by JDevers (83155)
          I personally know a guy right now serving lots of time for embezzlement, he had a great job (far better than mine and I do OK), a great house (he had it before he started stealing and could have easily paid for it with his salary), two kids he cares for very much, and a wife he seemingly loves. From my perspective he seemed to enjoy life quiet a bit also and he was a generally happy person.

          Why again did he steal millions of dollars? According to your theory he shouldn't have, but he did. People will ALWA
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Spazmania (174582)
          I had a college roommate who couldn't pay the minimum amount due on his credit cards. His solution: relieve the stress by charging a $300 car stereo.

          For every person locked in to the underclass by circumstances beyond their control there are ten more who every day make the choices that keep them there. You can save the one with cash and a little education will help a couple of the ten. Throw resources at the rest and you'll only learn how to squander your money the way they do.
        • That sound like a good job? Is the governor mansion in Alaska a nice place to live? Should someone with that kind of job and all the perks be content with life?

          Then please tell me why the current senator of Alaska felt it neccesary to commit a crime WHILE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD MAKING A FRACTION OF HIS SALARY, HAVE NOTHING AND NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TOO DO NOT COMMIT CRIMES?

          Your comment is not just stupid, it is plain insulting.

          As if somehow being poor makes you a criminal, yuch. So eve

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by robably (1044462)

        Crime is best prevented by the fear of getting caught and punished.

        No, and that's what's wrong with almost all the crime-prevention programs you hear about. Drugs education is about instilling fear, drink-driving adverts are about instilling fear, anti-smoking campaigns are about instilling fear.

        The best way to prevent crime is not by instilling fear, but by having a society of people who are aware of how their actions affect others and genuinely want the world to be a nice place to live in, because then

  • Looks like someone's been watching Numb3rs.
  • by chiph (523845) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:39PM (#20187229)
    The city that won the business intelligence award for data mining is Richmond VA, not 'Redmond'.

    Chip H.
    • by g0at (135364)
      This is why the slashdot "editors" are so highly regarded, highly paid, highly esteemed, highly self-absorbed, ...

  • How long till it catches on with the criminals?

    Some people don't go to places at peak time to avoid queues, if criminals realise the police know the peak times, they can anticipate the strength of guard and where police are?

    Knowledge like this can be used to both party's advantages. Some facts are obviously public knowledge such as weather.

    I don't think it even takes well-organized crime to understand this.

    How about the police force has a counter-itself division? It uses the public knowledge and works indep
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kent_eh (543303)
      How long till it catches on with the criminals?

      You haven't met a lot of criminals, have you?
      As a group, they're not the sharpest pencils in the box.

      That's not to say that they don't think they're "smarter than the cops".

      Many are convinced that they can outsmart the cops, and thus have no fear of getting caught.
      And with the concern for getting caught conveniently out of their mind, there is also no concern over the punishment, "cause I ain't gonna get caught, so there is no punishment."
      • by russotto (537200)

        You haven't met a lot of criminals, have you? As a group, they're not the sharpest pencils in the box.
        Yeah, but neither are the cops. And the smarter cops get sent after white collar criminals -- you know, embezzlers, file sharers, and the like.
    • by egburr (141740)
      The police are watching for patterns in crimes. Sure, some criminals that consistenly avoid that pattern will avoid getting caught. If enough change, then new patterns will form. It would probably take a coordinated effort of a majority of the criminals to avoid forming a new pattern. Then the police are no worse off than they were before this was developed.
  • ... crime is in the process of relocating, and we are back to square one.
  • you come to one undeniable conclusion:

    cop work is one of the most criticized, and yet at the same time vital, aspects of modern life

    almost all the comments here have some sort of negative thought or smarmy remark on an aspect of this story. and yet a cop is the first person these same people will call upon and depend upon if they are ever victimized or robbed. and what are the cops doing? no, what are they actually doing? i'm not asking your paranoid distrustful hollywood-addled alter ego, i'm asking your cognitive ability to look at and perceive the reality of actual police work

    typical human shortsightedness and lack of gratitude

    it must be so thankless being a cop. you're there to protect people, and all they can do is reflexively depart negativity at you

    humanity sucks. you are all so ungrateful
    • by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:04PM (#20187615)
      People go to the police because they are the only ones in our society who are given the right to use force and spy on people, not because we think they are the most qualified for helping us with our problems.

      • what exactly does that mean? what are the qualifications in your mind to becoming a cop? i'm going to take a wild guess and say that you would like to see higher standards when hiring cops. ok: now look at the way cops are treated, in your mind, and in the mind of the typical citizen: distrust, fear, hostility

        now ask yourself why your stellar qualifications aren't met in new recruits. gee, maybe it has something to do with the general attitude towards cops? highly qualified people seek out jobs that are hig
        • Ask 100 people to list 10 respectable professions and 'Teacher' and 'Police Officer' will be on everyones list.

          How many motorcade parades do you see for construction workers that get hit by cars while building the roads you drive on?

          "if society has a problem with their cops, society needs to look at it's own attitude towards the profession as the culprit, not the actual cops themselves"

          That is an insane statement. Replace the word 'cops' with 'lawyers', would it still be valid?
    • "it must be so thankless being a cop. you're there to protect people, and all they can do is reflexively depart negativity at you"

      My Father was a police officer for ten years before he became a judge. I appreciate the police. I grew up with them in my house. I actually walk up to them in public and thank them for their service to the community.

      It amazes me the way the police are treated. Most people see them as the enemy, when the truth of the matter they are just like you and me.

      • by russotto (537200)
        Cops divide the world into three groups -- cops, friends of cops (including families of cops, possibly EMTs and such), and enemies (everyone else). If most people see cops as the enemy, they are just returning the favor.
      • by Applekid (993327)

        . . . when the truth of the matter they are just like you and me.

        Funny you should mention that.

        Recently in my area, Broward (FL) deputy Chris Reyka was killed. There's a massive manhunt underweigh to find the perp and rain down cold justice. Just this morning I was watching the news and the quote was "this guy has no respect for the life of someone in the uniform, they certainly wouldn't have respect for anyone else."

        Pre-emptive strike: I do NOT disagree. Murder in cold blood ought to be dealt with swifly and it's a completely justifiable response. The deputy wasn't eve

    • by analogueblue (853280) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:13PM (#20187747) Homepage
      Having had my apartment robbed, I can tell you that I did call the police. They sent a guy out over 24 hours later, who basically said "yeah, lots of people have been getting robbed around here lately", (note: i lived in a pretty nice area), "you probably won't get anything back. I hope you're insured." and left. No finger printing, no looking at the busted door, no follow up.

      Add that to MANY instances of being harassed by cops for my car, my youth, being out late, etc... and it's hard not to have a negative view. I'm sure there are some good cops out there. I don't doubt it. But when I'm robbed they can't send a cop out that day, presumably because they're all too busy pulling over young guys in expensive cars and searching them without probably cause (I'm in tech, I'm not a drug dealer), or issuing speeding tickets for 25 in a 20 to meet their quotas.

      Anecdotes don't make a rule, it's true, but they do color a persons opinions. I've interacted with law enforcement many times (speeding tickets, random pull overs, having my apt. robbed, car accident, firearms testing for concealed carry, etc...), probably about 25 interactions. Of those, one was reasonably positive (helped after my car died on the side of the road), a few were neutral (neither helpful not malicious or abusive), and the rest (about 20) were negative (screaming and threats, searches without cause, rough handling, rudeness, apathy, etc...).
      • heh ;-) (Score:3, Interesting)

        there are silences in your anecdotes that speak volumes

        of course there are cops that take out their frustrations on innocent people. these cops are far and few between though, and they always quickly overstep their bounds in such a way as to be removed from the street

        meanwhile you talk about rudeness, rough handling, screaming and threats being the norm. so there seems to be a disconnect somewhere, since cops just don't go apeshit for no reason. cops are human beings. they act the same way you and i do. and
      • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:49PM (#20189291) Journal
        I lived in a lousy part of town, and was burglarized twice within two years. The first time, the burglar kicked in a door and took about $800 worth of stuff. The police came by about an hour after I called them, looked around, said they doubted I'd get any of it back, and duly cranked out a report for me to file with my insurance claim. The second time, I was walking in my front door when the burglar was walking out of it, and I grabbed my backpack out of his hands. THAT time, the police were there within maybe two minutes of my call, two cars plus an unmarked detective car at the house and another two cruising up the way the guy ran; they took pictures of everything and fingerprints from doors, stuff he'd touched and dropped, you name it. One detective told me "we get extremely interested as soon as there's homeowner contact with the burglar."

        My point being: the police have different criteria for what's important than you do, and they're professionals with lots of experience. Your history with them sounds like it sucks, and it's likely they were wrong a lot of the time. But you don't know why they're doing what they're doing, and my observation is that their decisions don't seem to be completely arbitrary.
    • by ShaunC (203807) *

      almost all the comments here have some sort of negative thought or smarmy remark on an aspect of this story. and yet a cop is the first person these same people will call upon and depend upon if they are ever victimized or robbed.
      Yes, I want the cops to be there if I get victimized or robbed; responding to such a situation is their job. I'm not so keen on having them data-mining and looking for crimes before they happen. There's a big difference.
    • Oh come on (Score:3, Insightful)

      by microbee (682094)
      I almost never called a cop. One time I did because neighbor was making noise after midnight, and nothing happened. The second time I wanted someone to mediate between a tenant and a landlord, they wouldn't do it.

      The only cases that I actually talked to a policeman were on the highway, and I had to pay hundreds of dollars and time to show up in traffic court.

      Oh, and occasional phone calls to ask for a donation. "No thanks, I've paid my fine share of speeding tickets this year."

      So don't lecture us what to th
      • The second time I wanted someone to mediate between a tenant and a landlord, they wouldn't do it.

        Well if you called me to do that, I wouldn't either. Why? For the same reason the cops won't... it's not their job!

        Unless the dispute between the landlord and tenant became abuse/violent, or there was an actual crime being committed, then it's not a job for the police. It may be a job for the courts system, but it's not something I'd expect the cops to shop up and deal with.
      • by david.given (6740)

        The only cases that I actually talked to a policeman were on the highway, and I had to pay hundreds of dollars and time to show up in traffic court.

        Well, yeah --- what did you expect? You're a criminal. Exceeding the speed limit is against the rules you agreed to abide by when you got your license to operate heavy machinery in a crowded area. You can hardly blame the police for that.

    • by greg_barton (5551) *

      humanity sucks. you are all so ungrateful

      Yeah! And on top of that we stereotype and overgeneralize.

      I HATE YOU ALL!
    • Grateful!? WTF!?

      I have had about 10 negative experiences with police and about 2 that seemed positive simply because nothing terrible happened. My experiences are hardly atypical.

      I'll start being grateful when there is something to be grateful for. If police focused on solving crimes and helping people instead of giving out speeding tickets and harassing nonviolent drug users I'd be real grateful.

      I had a family friend die because the police blew off her frantic calls about her abusive husband. I had a
    • it must be so thankless being a cop. you're there to protect people, and all they can do is reflexively depart negativity at you

      A few of my friends are cops. I will never forget something one of them said to me. The conversation had something to do with someone complaining about him arresting/ticketing people. His response was: "I don't write the fucking laws! You do! You are a citizen, it is your job to change the laws if you don't like them! It is my job to enforce them!"

      I think he had a fairly good point

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by db32 (862117)
      *CLAP* It is about time someone mentioned this. People seem to act like cops are all part of some vast conspiracy network, when the reality is, most of them are just trying to survive another night and get home and see their wife and kids. People here have some rather paranoid delusions, but look at it from the cop side, there are alot of people out to get them, and they can't hide. They wear uniforms (so help me God the first person who spouts off trying to split hairs about plain clothes cops gets a s
    • by dcollins (135727)
      I'm sorry, but the data I have regarding my interactions with cops shows that in general they do an extremely poor job. I'm a scrupulous law-abiding, even cowardly citizen. I've never been arrested. Nonetheless:

      - I got harassed as a teenager as revenge from the local chief of police after my dad fought him in court.
      - When my girlfriend had her car smashed up (overnight while parked on the street) by a drunk cabbie, with numerous witnesses, the cops barely wanted to talk to her or give her a copy of the poli
    • Prosecutors generally have a lot more freedom to act independently than cops do, especially cops on the street. Prosecutors can, at their discression, dismiss charges where they think that justice won't be served or there is a good reason to let the defendant go (ex. the cops arrested a guy purely on technicality). Some of the examples [codemonkeyramblings.com] of prosecutor misconduct can be quite tragic, and show far less ethics than their police counterparts (which can be very bad in their own right!)
    • God.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by msimm (580077)
      Where do you people come from? Humanity sucks? People with your shit attitude suck. I scanned the comments, they where a typical mix. I don't love or hate police. I don't like it when they abuse their power (power has that problem) but I know there are plenty of people out there working in law enforcement that do what they do because they care about it. Same as with a lot of other things, but like doctors, paramedics, firefighters and countless other occupations what they do often helps save lives.

      Maybe i
    • I think of most cops as heroic fascists.

      If you push their buttons right- they are heroes.
      If you push their buttons wrong- they can be the worst kind of villains.

      Even my otherwise extremely nice nephew has told gloating stories about lording power over civilians and was so far gone he no longer realizes he sounds like a thug when he does so.

      Likewise- good cops usually side with bad cops. So you have a problem there. If there is one bad cop in a department, then you have the good cops oppressing civilians t
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      cop work is one of the most criticized, and yet at the same time vital, aspects of modern life

      Cop work is criticized because when it is abused, it is one of the most damaging and dangerous aspects of our society, and it is abused every day by a large number of cops.

      and yet a cop is the first person these same people will call upon and depend upon if they are ever victimized or robbed.

      Police intervene in time to prevent a crime in only a few percent of all crimes. Most of the time, they don't even investigate robberies. If you're robbed you call them and hope you have insurance.If someone attacks you, you fight them or shoot them, and call the police afterwards so that they don't come for you when the body is foun

  • Sounds like they're working on the Pre-Crime Unit from Minority Report, but with computer analysis instead of involuntary, drugged slightly-mutant people. Overall, a good idea as long as they wait to capture enough evidence to prove that the crime was inevitable if they hadn't intervened.
    • by corsec67 (627446)
      What the hell?
      Why should it be illegal to be about to commit a crime?
      Possesion of a tire wrench in your car would be illegal if you are in certain neighborhoods because you "must have been about to commit a crime?"

      This relys on police being trustworthy as to whether you were "about to" commit a crime, which means that police have even more power.

      "Let me search your car or I will arrest you for being about to punch me..."
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:38PM (#20188217) Homepage

    The NYPD's CompStat system [wikipedia.org] has been doing that for about ten years now. It's working reasonably well. At first it was really effective, because career criminals tend to fall into predictable patterns. Crime in NYC has dropped enough that there's more randomness, and prediction is less effective.

  • So are they deploying more cops on Wall St. just before quarterly earnings are announced?
  • This would never work as a movie, its almost too predictable. Maybe as a Wester...
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@xm s n e t.nl> on Saturday August 11, 2007 @07:54AM (#20194645)
    Wow. Over here, companies use direct bank transfers to pay their workers' salaries, and have done so for at least 30 years now. I've no need to ever carry large amounts of cash or cash-analogue paper (checks).

    Is the US banking industry really that backward? How come?

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