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02-18-13, 08:49 PM #1
Police enlist war tech in crime fightWhen Yonathan Melaku was arrested at Arlington National Cemetery in the summer of 2011, months after he started his shooting spree, police had been expecting him there.They had analyzed hundreds of factors such as the gunman’s sight lines, access points and escape routes. His escape route was particularly important; he stayed close to highways.With the data, they produced a list of hundreds of likely target areas, along with the probability that the shooter would visit each one. It helped them figure out where to focus resources and what to protect.It didn’t lead to Melaku’s arrest; he was stopped in the cemetery behaving erratically and lugging a backpack loaded with spray paint, spent shell casings and homemade bomb-making materials. The case, led by the FBI, ended with Melaku pleading guilty to the shootings, and in January he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.But the accuracy of the prediction — placing Arlington in the top tier of his possible targets — seemed to prove the technology’s potential in helping to focus large, complex investigations, Lambert said.“This helps us make sense of our data,” Lambert said. “In the Fusion Center I often say we’re drowning in information and yet starved for knowledge.”Other data police analyzed included terrain of the crime scenes, public transit access and the economics of surrounding neighborhoods.
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