In 2010, the Shreveport Police Department (SPD) developed a predictive policing program, titled Predictive Intelligence Led Operational Targeting (PILOT), with the aim of testing the model in the field. PILOT was an analytically driven policing strategy that uses special operations resources focused on narrow locations predicted to be hot spots for property crime. The underlying theory of PILOT was that signs of community disorder (and other indicators) are precursors of more-serious criminal activity, in this case property crime. By focusing resources in the areas predicted to experience increases in criminal activity associated with community disorder, police believed they could deter the property crimes from occurring.
Even though there is a growing interest in predictive policing, to date there had been few, if any, formal evaluations of these programs. This report documents an assessment of PILOT in 2012, which was conducted to evaluate the crime reduction effects of policing guided by statistical predictions. RAND researchers led multiple interviews and focus groups with the Shreveport Police Department throughout the course of the trial to document the implementation of the statistical predictive and prevention models.
In addition to a basic assessment of the process, the report shows the crime impacts and costs directly attributable to the strategy. It is hoped that this will provide a fuller picture for police departments considering if and how a predictive policing strategy should be adopted.
There was no statistically significant change in property crime in the experimental districts that applied the predictive models compared with the control districts; therefore, overall, the intervention was deemed to have no effect. There are both statistical and substantive possibilities to explain this null effect. In addition, it is likely that the predictive policing program did not cost any more than traditional hot spot policing, in which police special operations were conducted in response to clusters of property crimes.
Although overall positive impacts were not identified statistically, officers across districts also perceived improved community relations and hot spot maps were created that further assisted commanders and officers in making day-to-day targeting decisions.