Police in Southern California are increasingly turning to technology in the fight against crime, but the technologies also raise criminal defense questions for those accused of committing crimes.
Criminal Defense Takes on Crime Data
Predictive policing software.Recently, the City of Milpitas approved a three-year contract with a software company called PredPol. The company produces a predictive policing software package that purports to reduce crimes by predicting the geographic areas where crimes are most likely to happen. The tool is supposed to allow law enforcement agencies to adjust staffing levels appropriately to discourage criminal activity in the targeted areas.
As proof, the Milpitas Police Department cites a 13% drop in some crimes, like burglaries, registered in the Los Angeles Foothills Division, where PredPol has been in place since 2012. In other areas of Los Angeles, where the software has not been introduced, overall crime has risen by about one-half percent.
The software does not attempt to predict individual behaviors, but relies on crime data to predict future criminal activity in a given geographic area. According to the software manufacturers, this allows police departments to make better decisions about deploying limited policing resources.
Mobile phone apps.A new mobile policing application, designed for use with smartphones may help put more information in the hands of police on the street. JusticeMobile, a new smartphone application, gives police officers instant access to state and federal crime databases. The application was created by the California Department of Justice and is being tested now by officers in the San Francisco Police Department.
In addition to giving access to a large volume of crime data collected over decades, the application also allows police on the street to identify suspects, document crime scenes, record video and audio accounts of crimes, share information about active crime investigations and upload the information to crime-mapping software. The application will also make available Department of Motor Vehicles records, 911 call histories, and suspects’ criminal histories, and will allow DOJ officers to conduct criminal background checks in advance of firearm sales.
For criminal defense attorneys, these applications open up the questions of profiling and misidentification of responsible individuals. Much like the State of California’s generous DNA collection and storage practices, which are now under judicial review, criminal defense attorneys may be called upon to combat improper data collection, storage and interpretation practices by officers with access to large volumes of potentially irrelevant crime data.
An experienced attorney can help identify and protect you from the results of improper investigations and illegal searches. Robert M. Helfend is a noted criminal defense attorney who works in the Los Angeles area. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, or believe that you have been unjustly targeted by local law enforcement, do not wait to act! Contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Helfend toll-free at (800) 834-6434 or locally at (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for a consultation. Robert M. Helfend is an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who can help!