Predictive Policing Management: A Brief History of Patrol Automation

DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:98.09.2019

Predictive policing has attracted considerably scholarly attention. Extending the promise of being able to interdict crime prior to its commission, it seemingly promised forms of anticipatory policing that had previously existed only in the realms of science fiction. The aesthetic futurism that attended predictive policing did, however, obscure the important historical vectors from which it emerged. The adulation of technology as a tool for achieving efficiencies in policing was evident from the 1920s in the United States, reaching sustained momentum in the 1960s as the methods of Systems Analysis were applied to policing. Underpinning these efforts resided an imaginary of automated patrol facilitated by computerised command and control systems. The desire to automate police work has extended into the present, and is evident in an emergent platform policing – cloud-based technological architectures that increasingly enfold police work. Policing is consequently datafied, commodified and integrated into the circuits of contemporary digital capitalism. 

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98: Automation Anxiety