Mother Jones


Can big data help prevent police shootings?

ONE MORNING IN April 2015, Rayid Ghani was sitting among more than a dozen big-city police chiefs and officials in a fourth-floor conference room across the street from the White House. It was the latest in a series of meetings about curbing police abuses that the Obama administration had urgently called. The day before, a cellphone video had emerged showing a white South Carolina cop shooting an unarmed black man in the back, sparking another wave of Black Lives Matter protests and eventually prompting an FBI investigation. Ghani didn’t know much about law enforcement, having spent most of his career studying human behavior—things like grocery shopping, learning, and voting. But the Pakistani-born data scientist and University of Chicago professor had an idea for how to stop

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