Big Data Policing: Fresno Takes a Page from 'Minority Report'

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The Fresno, California “Real Time Crime Center” is relying on a database that ranks potential criminals for their threat level, and then officers in the field respond accordingly.
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In Fresno, California, policing is starting to look a lot like the film "Minority Report." But instead of Tom Cruise heading up the Precrime unit, Fresno has Chief Jerry Dyer. And instead of a psychic that names future offenders, Chief Dyer relies on software to assess someone's "threat level."

The software is called Beware, and it analyzes billions of data points to calculate a suspect's threat score and assign either green, yellow, or red to a suspect. Operators and analysts in the Real Time Crime Center then determine how officers in the field should proceed based off that color.

The American Civil Liberties Union and some Fresno city council members are opposed to Beware's intrusion on privacy and are condemning the lack of oversight. But Chief Dyer, who is overseeing Beware's pilot program, believes the software is safeguarding officers when they respond to calls.

What you'll learn from this segment:

  • How the Beware program actually works and what happens in the Real Time Crime Center.
  • What Chief Dyer says in response to advocates that argue that Beware is an invasion on privacy and another example of mass surveillance.
  • Whether the Beware program will expand to other police departments around the country.