If Arizona’s House of Representatives passes the appropriations bill, the state would be the first in the nation to devote funds toward predictive policing. To date, only individual police departments have purchased crime-forecasting software.
The pilot predictive policing projects are slated for the Phoenix, Mesa and Lake Havasu City police departments. Republican state Sen. Steven Smith, who authored the bill, said in an interview that its intent is to see how predictive policing technology would work in large and medium urban settings, as well as in a rural community like Lake Havasu. The proposed legislation has the support of the Arizona Police Association, the state’s foremost law enforcement lobbying group.
The funds would come from a subaccount for the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission, otherwise known as GIITEM, a multiagency, state-level law enforcement task force that targets gang activity, immigration enforcement, drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Smith told Reveal that predictive policing technology would help Arizona’s hamstrung law enforcement agencies – Phoenix alone has lost 700 police officers in recent years. “We want a broader initiative to help law enforcement talk better to each other in a time of budget constraints,” Smith said, adding that the software would draw on three to five years of crime statistics and information from several sources, including Arizona’s gang database.