Sketchy police use of body cameras; LEO use of predictive crime software biased and useless

NYPD has yet to outfit any of their officers with body cameras despite a 2013 federal court ruling that ordered the implementation of a body camera pilot program in at least 5 NYPD precincts: “Envisioned as a tool to bolster police accountability, body cameras have faced pockets of resistance, from both police reform advocates and some law enforcement agencies and state legislatures. Reform advocates have cautioned that cameras could provide the police with new methods of surveillance that might erode personal privacy, while some law enforcement agencies have balked at the cost of storing so much data, and some states have added restrictions on public access to the footage.” (NY Times)

While predictive policing and risk assessment tools have been used by law enforcement agencies to prevent crime—with little to no success—they have also been implemented in many parole and sentencing decisions, including sex offender recidivism “prediction.” However, the accuracy and legitimacy of these instruments have been questioned because of the tool’s implicit bias and, in some cases, lack of foundation. TruthOut asks, “But is the right question to be asking in this moment really how to balance professional judgment and a predictive instrument, or even how these algorithms or tools are inaccurate and racially profile? Instead, perhaps we should be asking why there is such a profound silence surrounding the elephant in the room: the structural problems in society that drive harm.”
Related: UK Predictive Terrorism Program based on “flawed and secretive science”

Thanks to the New York Legal Aid Society!

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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