New tool from Purdue keeps police officers ahead of the curve

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WEST LAFAYETTE – A new software developed at Purdue University is giving police officers more information as they fight crime.

The software, called “VALET,” is already being tested out by several local departments.

Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly held it in his hands, running off of an iPad, showing FOX59 how it’s helping his officers.

“Having information at their fingertips is really of the utmost priority for us,” Flannelly said.

The software gives a visual look at every call, as well as categorized crime, in the city. It uses colored “hot spots” to show where trends of crime are happening, even down to the hour.

“Technology now can point us in directions more quickly and more efficiently than sometimes the old fashioned way,” Flannelly said.

Doctoral candidate Abish Malik said that every department he’s talked to has immediately wanted to try out the software.

“You can see the hot spots evolve and emerge and change,” Malik said.

Malik and his team have also worked to adapt the software as departments phase it in and test it out. He said the visual nature is different than technologies already being utilized in most police departments.

“Human beings, by nature we’re visual people, so if you present information, just a picture is worth more than a thousand words,” Malik said.

Flannelly said the ability to show an officer what type of area they are driving into and its criminal activity in recent time is vital. He also said it helps fill in the gaps, like when an officer is off duty and new hot spots can pop up.

“We don’t necessarily have the resources to throw more people at the problem, so we have to find ways to utilize technology to make us more effective in what we’re doing,” Flannelly said.

The department is rolling it out to more officers and Flannelly said he’s recommending it to other departments as well.

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