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Criminologists debate LAPD’s predictive policing by helicopter surveillance

by AirTalk®

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Los Angeles Police Department Helicopter Photo by Christopher Ebdon via Flickr Creative Commons

Helicopters are playing a bigger role in the LAPD’s predictive policing efforts and not everyone is happy about it.

Supporters of the policy say the department’s 17 helicopters offer a powerful expansion of the Broken Windows theory, a deterrent when they fly over hotspots identified through data-driven crime fighting. The data backs them up.

But critics say that statistical drop in crime is temporary and not worth the concern the practice raises over police militarization and the nuisance it creates for neighbors.

Are helicopters an effective tool for the police to be deploying in Los Angeles? Or should these resources be used differently?


Craig Uchida, president of Justice & Security Strategies, a consulting firm that works with law enforcement agencies (including LAPD) to analyze data and provide crime prevention strategies.

Andrew Ferguson, associate professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia whose research focuses on criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence

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