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posted by janrinok on Saturday March 14 2015, @05:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the deters-not-prevents dept.

True Angelenos don't even bother to look up when one of the LAPD's 17 helicopters rattles their windows searching for a car-jacked Camry or an assault suspect hiding under a jacaranda but few doubt that more bad guys would get away without the nation's largest police helicopter fleet to help chase them. Now the LA Times reports that data shows that LA's helicopters are stopping crimes before they happen. Tapping into the data-driven policing trend, the department uses heat maps, technology and years of statistics to identify crime "hot spots." Pilots then use their downtime to fly over them, on the theory that would-be criminals tend to rethink their nefarious plans when there's "ghetto birds," as Ice Cube calls them, hovering overhead. Months of data show that the number of serious crimes reported in the LAPD's Newton Division in South L.A. fell during weeks when the helicopters conducted more flights. During the week of Sept. 13, when the helicopter unit flew over Newton 65 times, the division recorded 90 crimes. A week later, the number of flights dropped to 40 and the number of reported crimes skyrocketed to 136, with rises seen among almost all types of crime, including burglary, car theft and thefts from vehicles. "It's extremely cutting edge," says Capt. Gary Walters, who heads the LAPD's air support unit. "It's different. It's nothing that we've ever done before with this specificity."

But Professor Geoffrey Alpert. a policing expert who has studied the use of police helicopters in Miami and Baltimore, says the choppers can deter crime in the short-term but criminals will likely return when they're not around (PDF). "You are deterring the criminals but you aren't getting rid of them and their intent. Those criminals could strike in a different time and place," says Alpert. "I mean that’s the whole thing about random patrol. You see a police car and it’s the same thing. You hide, he goes around the block and you go back to your breaking and entering.”

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Saturday March 14 2015, @06:12AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday March 14 2015, @06:12AM (#157673) Journal

    During the week of Sept. 13, when the helicopter unit flew over Newton 65 times, the division recorded 90 crimes. A week later, the number of flights dropped to 40 and the number of reported crimes skyrocketed to 136,

    So when the choppers have nothing else to do, presumably because crime is down all over the city, the choppers hang around certain high crime areas.
    But when crime is up in other part of the city, and the choppers are busy elsewhere, the crime in this area goes up as well.

    So crime seems to go up and down, seemingly city wide, without regard to where the choppers are.

    Couldn't other parts of the city claim that crime goes DOWN BECAUSE the choppers are AWAY?

    Cause vs effect seem to somewhat doubtful here.
    The police seem to want to take credit sunrise and sunset here.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @06:24AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @06:24AM (#157676)

    What is the actual independent scientific evidence of this? This correlation = causation garbage isn't going to cut it, and especially for something this small scale.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @06:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @06:48AM (#157680)

      > What is the actual independent scientific evidence of this?

      There isn't any. We don't even have to question the statistical validity of the claims, TFA included this line:

      "Craig Uchida, a policing consultant who analyzes data for the LAPD and offers advice on crime prevention strategies, says it is too early to prove a definitive link between the flights and drops in crime."

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tathra on Saturday March 14 2015, @08:20AM

    by tathra (3367) on Saturday March 14 2015, @08:20AM (#157683)

    you know what also stops crimes before they happen, is cheaper and more beneficial, and builds trust between the police and the community instead of making people feel oppressed, violated, and spied on all the time? beat cops walking beats, interacting with the community, and actually protecting and serving. not murdering people in cold blood would help to but lets just take it one step at a time.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @09:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @09:18AM (#157693)

      I don't know about others/elsewhere, but I'm tremendously glad that the police don't "interact" with the community much in my neck of the woods. They generally save their interactions for anyone with an out-of-state license plate, which is incredibly common given that one of the US's most famous interstate highways passes directly through my small town.

      Generally "interacting" involves a ticket pad, a "I'm going to search you for my own safety and yours," and potentially a "I smell marijuana coming from your vehicle" if they simply don't like you.

      At least it stirs up controversy when someone gets murdered by a cop. Business as usual is just glorified as protecting and serving; I'm GLAD when they don't protect and serve me.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @09:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @09:28AM (#157696)

      Beat cops? Choppers? Let's just fill the streets with angry mandrills and fill the skies with sharks with lasers.

      Sure the constant presence of helicopters will reduce crime numbers, but is that because the potential victims are curtailing their normal activities as a natural byproduct of an omnipresent and oppressive totalitarian police force? People will change how they act when treated like animals.

      And before someone starts clamoring about shrinking budgets and "we can't afford mandrills and sharks" just break out the police or military checkpoints every block or two. That should work even better than choppers (but not as well as hungry or angry animals).

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mendax on Saturday March 14 2015, @09:51AM

    by mendax (2840) on Saturday March 14 2015, @09:51AM (#157706)

    Keeping cops out of black neighborhoods also prevents crime. Los Angeles Police have long demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. Police in general cannot be trusted.

    --
    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @12:27PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14 2015, @12:27PM (#157732)

    Does anyone have information on organizations that are trying to change the system so that society as a whole is healthier?
    Cause crime seems to be a great indicator of wealth imbalance and faulty religious dogmas, imho.

    Fix those things, and we can ALL have helicopter rides.

  • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Saturday March 14 2015, @03:20PM

    by rts008 (3001) on Saturday March 14 2015, @03:20PM (#157782)

    During the week of Sept. 13, when the helicopter unit flew over Newton 65 times, the division recorded 90 crimes. A week later, the number of flights dropped to 40 and the number of reported crimes skyrocketed to 136, with rises seen among almost all types of crime,...

    The question I have is: Did the surrounding areas see an increase, same, or reduced crimes?

    I would not be surprised if the chopper flights just caused a temporary relocation, and not the massive reduction they claim.

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday March 14 2015, @03:32PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday March 14 2015, @03:32PM (#157785) Homepage Journal

    Back in the day I was sitting on Venice Beach late at night, with a pretty girl. A police helicopter hovered low over us, then circled around, shining its light on us the whole time.

    What crime was prevented? That she and I might have fallen in love?

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by zeigerpuppy on Sunday March 15 2015, @02:41AM

    by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Sunday March 15 2015, @02:41AM (#157946)

    Ever watched, ever taught to fear. Liberty is dead,
    When the leaders conflated their failure to govern with an external threat.
    Tying people's hands and watching them constantly reduces crime by those people,
    Forget that their conditions are a crime by the state.
    Subjugated, disempowered, underpaid and if that doesn't work,
    Shoot the bastards.
    Hello new world.

  • (Score: 1) by o_o on Sunday March 15 2015, @01:11PM

    by o_o (1544) on Sunday March 15 2015, @01:11PM (#158011)

    .. unless by 'helicopter' the authors mean 'assault helicopter'. And here is why: real crime, not just trigger-happy halfwits that shoot at each other's general direction (cops included), is not at all how this 'study' paints it. Helicopters are good (but not the best) for recon, and are even better for showing off to your opponent ("Fear my mighty inescapable helicopter. That flies. Like in the movies.") but that's pretty much it. Beyond that, remember a helicopter is at a pretty volatile position because a) it is slow, b) it cannot take cover, and c) any mechanical failure while airborne can be a nightmare at best, and death at worst. This is why you will never see helicopters over actual crimes where assault rifles are at play: any sharpshoot can take them out easily, as can any good sharpshoot with an accurate handgun, and the police is well aware of that. Heck, even a couple of trained musketmen can take helicopters out if they retain their cool.

    So I call bullshit. And I am a bit surprised that police does not yet have their own assault helicopters, with the over-the-top militarization of police that has been going on in this country for the past two decades and whatnot.