Predicting Future Crime

The Thresh

Minority Report StagingBy Maurice Chammah

The Marshall Project

Predicting crime has always been part of police work; any beat cop can tell you that a particularly dark street corner is vulnerable to carjackers, or a large parking lot offers anonymity for drug dealers. Scholars have been mapping crime since the 1800s, but during New York City’s crime spike in the 1990s, police officers started doing so systematically. Most notable among them was Jack Maple, a quick-talking, up-from-the-bottom transit cop who wore double-breasted suits, homburg hats, and two-tone shoes and has become a near-mythic figure in police circles. At the NYPD’s Manhattan headquarters, Maple would stretch out butcher paper across 55 feet of wall space. “I called them the Charts of the Future,” he once told an interviewer. “I mapped every train station in New York City and every train. Then I used crayons to mark every violent crime, robbery, and grand larceny…

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