City Council Questions Police Data-Mining Program

FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno City Council bringing forth concerns about a data-mining program currently being tested by police. It's called Beware, created by the company Intrado.

"It is designed to access automatically various databases that are really public domain type databases where anyone can access that information," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

According to the website, Beware combines data from billions on public records, then uses an algorithm to assign a color, green, yellow or red, to a specific residence, alerting the officer on a potential threat.

"All of those things that would allow the officer in the field to be more knowledgeable about what they're dealing with," Dyer said.

But Council Member Clint Olivier says the digging goes too far.

"Intrado says that it uses social media and goes through your posts to determine what kind of a threat level you are. And that's scary," Olivier said.

Olivier is also concerned about the potential for misinformation. He says his own address came up as a yellow threat because of people who lived there before him.

But Chief Dyer says it's an important tool that can help keep officers safer.

"If they look and see that it's because there's a wanted person that lives there, then they're going to provide that information to the officer. They're going to provide the information, not how the address is color coded," Dyer said.

Chief Dyer is unaware of the program looking into a person's social media, but admits he wants to find out more about what information is tapped into before bringing it up to council for approval.

Olivier says he'll keep an open mind, but will be hard to convince.

"I have privacy concerns. I've already been contacted by constituents and I know that several colleagues on the council have as well," Olivier said. 

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