Data-Driven Policing

Organizing against and exposing LAPD’s use of data to criminalize communities

The state has always used data to contain, control, and criminalize our communities, and “data-driven policing” is how police automate and justify their racism, violence, and banishment in our communities. The term refers to the collection and mining of mass data to determine which people and places will be policed. These systems draw from a vast web of surveillance sources, data brokers, state agencies, and open-source information, putting this data at police fingertips. LAPD uses these systems to generate profiles of people, develop hotspot maps, and create secret hit lists of who to target. Many of these technologies and methods were developed for the US’s imperial wars abroad, another example of local police adopting military weapons alongside the tanks and grenade-launchers.

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition formed in 2011 as a campaign against Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR), a national security policing that allows local police to create secret intelligence files based on observations of people’s benign behavior such as taking photographs in public or inquiring about hours of operations. Over the years, our organizing to expose SAR’s harm has helped restrict and dwindle the program, and we are committed to abolishing it altogether. Read more about our work against SAR, including our 2013 report The People’s Audit

Over the years, we also started organizing against LAPD’s first-generation “predictive policing” programs, called Operation LASER (an internal LAPD program built on the Palantir platform) and PredPol (a for-profit business developed by UCLA professors in close collaboration with LAPD). These were programs where LAPD harvested data to select people and places that they would target for extreme policing. Our 2018 report Before the Bullet the Bullet Hits the Body: Dismantling Predictive Policing in Los Angeles dissects the violence of these programs and helped frame our successful organizing to dismantle LASER (which LAPD ended in 2019) and PredPol (which LAPD stopped using in 2020). The same month those programs finally ended, LAPD announced Data-Driven Community-Focused policing, a policing framework that combines police data-mining with “community policing” and other . In 2021, we published another report titled Automating Banishment: The Surveillance and Policing of Looted Land, which examines the evolution of data-driven policing with a focus on the relationships to real estate development, displacement, and settler colonialism. 

List of posts about Data-Driven Policing

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is building community power toward abolition of the police state.