Thursday, January 12, 2006

Battling Crime in the Valley with Microsoft Excel

Like the rest of LA, crime is down in the San Fernando Valley. The arguments for the drop include an aging population, more mellow drugs for poor people to be addicted to and some city programs like Midnight Basketball. The Freakonomics guys may argue this is the product of some well-targeted abortions, the LAPD believes that it's smarter, techo approaches to fighting crime are paying off.
While Bratton is credited with instituting these techno-cop methods, the trend began seven years ago in Van Nuys with the case of the Motorcycle Bandit. Detectives investigating a series of purse-snatchings at shopping center parking lots used laws of mathematical probability, a Microsoft Excel worksheet, and a pocket calculator to predict within 95 percent certainty when and where the Motorcycle Bandit would strike next. As luck, or the math, would have it, officers caught the bandit less than an hour after scoping out where it was predicted he would strike.



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