Philly Police Tap Fed Grant for Data Science Program

The Philadelphia Police Department is using a $320,000 federal grant to research a new crime fighting strategy known as hypothesis testing

What Happened?
The Philadelphia Police Department is using a $320,000 federal grant to expand its data science program. The department is researching a new crime fighting strategy known as hypothesis testing.

Goal
The Philadelphia Police Department was recently awarded a one-year $320,000 grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The federal funding will be used to build out the police department’s data-driven strategy to optimize information to more proactively address violent crimes. The money will go toward new technologies and training 30 police officers to be data scientists, Technic.Ly reported.

This specific practice of analyzing data to improve law enforcement is called hypothesis testing. First introduced at the University College of London, hypothesis testing crime analysis is designed to help law enforcement identify and test several plausible reasons for a persistent crime and use these hypotheses to “frame the direction and content of the analysis.”

The strategy encourages police to work collaboratively with data analysts to identify the who, what, where, when, how and why for each violent crime. The Philadelphia Police Department’s will launch a pilot program to see how effective hypothesis testing crime analysis is on crime rates within specific districts.

According to research from the University College of London, hypothesis testing helps law enforcement better understand why a crime problem exists, and therefore know what data is needed to address the issue. It aims to eliminate the guesswork in determining why a crime occurred, which can save valuable time and resources.

Tempe Project
In Tempe, Arizona, the local police department was also awarded a federal grant to help fight crime through training and tools. The $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice will be used to:

  • Purchase updated tools to collect community data
  • Implement analysis tools to optimize data streams
  • Train police officers to better understand criminal data and analysis

The Tempe Police Department wants to make better use of all available data volumes to identify trends in criminal activity and proactively prevent recidivism. The money will also be used to share crime data across multiple law enforcement agencies to encourage a cooperative approach to law enforcement in the region.

Furthermore, the upgrades in technology and communication tools will enable crime analysts and police officers to respond to emerging trends and criminal activity faster and more efficiently. The police department hopes to become less reactive by understanding why crimes occur, KTAR reported.

The BJA
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance offers local law enforcement agencies with criminal justice policy and grants to improve public safety across the country. Municipal police departments can take advantage of a number of funding opportunities or up-to-date resources such as:

  • Justice Assistance Grant
  • Second Chance Act
  • Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation
  • Justice Reinvestment Initiative
  • Field-Initiated Program
  • Smart Policing Initiative
  • Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative

The BJA also offers a National Training and Technical Assistance Center website to share new criminal justice information and tools to improve the efficacy of law enforcement agencies at the state, local and tribal levels.

Fueling Modern Police
EfficientGov has reported on a variety of law enforcement grant programs that are helping local departments address criminal activity more proactively.

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