Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Numbers Help Police Predict Upcoming Crimes

Raymond Boyd, Getty Images

Over the last few months, there have been periodic outbreaks of violence in Milwaukee during the weekends, or other several day stretches, with sudden increases in shootings or other criminal unrest.

“We know it’s there, it’s going to happen, but nothing happens,” says Ruben Burgos, veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department.  “We give them predictions, we put cops on the street, and nothing happens, and they say, ‘it’s all a bunch of BS, doesn’t work,’ and they go off and do other things.  You gotta have patience, because the numbers don’t lie.”

While those outbreaks are still often difficult to predict, the ability to forecast trends in crime has evolved a great deal in recent years, thanks to the work of crime analysts. 

That field is the fastest growing wing of the crime-fighting equation, and its ranks include a growing number of graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Department of Criminal Justice. 

Alexandra Snowden is an assistant professor of criminal justice.  Burgos is now a senior lecturer in the department.