Senior officers from The New York City Police Department met late last week to discuss a plan to monitor internet sites in search of clues that might prevent future mass-casualty shootings.
The NYPD intends to create algorithms that scan the text of conversations in chat rooms, social media and emails for clues on potential ‘apolitical or deranged killers’, according to an article in the New York Times.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond W Kelly told the newspaper that such a system would enable undercover police to engage with individuals that displayed a potential for such violence in an effort to ensure attacks never proceed.
The NYPD’s renewed interest in data analytics was spurred by a mass-casualty shooting at an Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a lone gunman killed 26 individuals, mostly children.
The NYPD previously released a report [pdf] – signed off by Commissioner Kelly - studying the characteristics of over 200 ‘active shooters’ in a search for commonalities.
This study found that active shooters were nearly always male and acting alone, aged between 15-19 in schools or 35-44 in the workplace. In terms of intent, the perpetrator was almost always shot by Police or took their own life.
“Although this analysis identified some common characteristics among active shooters, the NYPD found a large degree of variation among attacks across some broad categories, including: sex of the attacker, age of the attacker, number of attackers, planning tactics, targets, number of casualties, location of the attack, weapons used, and attack resolution,” the report stated.