What happens when you look at crime by the numbers WB: @KMKowalskiSB :@MsALambert

Statistics can find crime hot spots or flag which police officers are more likely to shoot at crime scenes. Unfortunately, some data risk misleading the police.

The best crime-fighting tools would, in theory, prevent illegal activity from ever happening. Some police departments have adopted tools they hoped would accomplish this. They analyze data on past crimes with an eye toward predicting where more crime might occur. Then they send extra officers to patrol such places. But there’s a risk to that approach: The data used may not reflect the true rates of local crime. And this could threaten to derail efforts at effective crime prevention, experts now contend.

Such faulty data also risk reinforcing racist attitudes and stereotypes, statisticians said at a forum, here, on February 19. The program was held at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Police departments want to do a good job at fighting crime. But the data they work from may be flawed. For instance, those data may not reflect the full range of people committing crimes. Or they may focus on certain neighborhoods while ignoring others where illegal activities also occur.

Such biased data can inappropriately suggest that some areas as especially crime-ridden. Or if certain types of criminals are less likely to be caught — such as wealthy or well-educated people — police might focus their attention on poorer or less-educated individuals……………

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Source: What happens when you look at crime by the numbers | Science News for Students