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Law Enforcement Wants To Try 'Predictive Policing' 377

Harperdog with this excerpt from a story about using statistics to fight crime: "It’s great when cops catch criminals after they've done their dirty work. But what if police could stop a crime before it was even committed? Though that may sound like a fantasy straight from a Philip K. Dick novel, it's a goal police departments from Los Angeles to Memphis are actively pursuing with help from the Department of Justice and a handful of cutting-edge academics. It's called 'predictive policing.' The idea: Although no one can foresee individual crimes, it is possible to forecast patterns of where and when homes are likely to be burgled or cars stolen by analyzing truckloads of past crime reports and other data with sophisticated computer algorithms. 'We know where crime has occurred in the last month, but that doesn't mean it'll be there next month,' Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Sean Malinowski says. 'The only way for us to continue to have crime reduction is to start anticipating where crime is going to occur.'"

10 Percent of Colleges Check Applicants' Social Profiles 398

theodp writes "Confirming paranoid high-schoolers' fears, a new Kaplan survey reveals that 10% of admissions officers from prestigious schools said they had peeked at sites like Facebook and MySpace to evaluate college-bound seniors. Of those using the profiles, 38% said it had a 'negative impact' on the applicant. 'Today's application is not just what you send ... but whatever they can Google about you,' said Kaplan's Jeff Olson. At Notre Dame, assistant provost for enrollment Dan Saracino said he and his staff sometimes come across candidates portraying themselves in a less-than-flattering light. 'It's typically inappropriate photos — like holding up a can of beer at a party,' Saracino said. On the other hand, using the Internet to vet someone's character seems overly intrusive to Northwestern's Christopher Watson. 'We consider Facebook and MySpace their personal space,' the dean of undergraduate admissions said. 'It would feel somewhat like an invasion of privacy.'" We recently discussed similar practices from prospective employers.

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