Preventing tragedy

It’s truly amazing to live in this day in age, with so many smart solutions at our fingertips. This month’s cover story “Predict and serve” by Ronnie Garrett (page 18) brings to light a new technology that is helping law enforcement agencies prevent crime before it even begins. The software is based on mathematical algorithms that use past crime data and maps to pinpoint potential “hot spots” ripe for criminal activity.

Think of the knowledge and “gut instinct” a seasoned vet acquires through years and decades on duty. Now imagine that instinct and know-how passed down to a first year patrol officer. Though it’s not meant to replace an officer’s knowledge and skill, PredPol—named one of the Top 50 Inventions of 2011 by Time Magazine—hopes to get close. In fact, police in Los Angeles report PredPol has already helped to thwart a number of would-be crimes—namely break-ins and criminal damage to property.

Predictive policing tools and crime mapping software are quickly changing the way law enforcement officers serve and protect communities. The technology has made significant strides in the last few years alone.

And yet, it would seem we are still far from where we need to be. Unfortunately nobody could have predicted the recent tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, a sleepy, quiet town. As the community continues to lay to rest all 20 children and six adults from the school, as much as the world grieves and we continue to ask “why?” there simply aren’t enough satisfactory answers. Random acts of violence have occurred from the beginning of time. Still, it is extra heartbreaking (and despicable) whenever innocent children are the victims.

We join the rest of the country in expressing our deepest condolences to those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, and our deepest gratitude to the men and women who ran into Sandy Knoll School that Friday morning not knowing whom they would encounter, or what would happen next.

Until we can find a way to indeed predict and prevent the next Adam Lanza, it seems the thing to do now is move forward and work together with intelligence and compassion, to find and utilize better solutions according to each of our strengths, in the hopes that these senseless acts will end.

Wishing you all peace and comfort in this new year.