Online Clues to Gun Violence?

One major city convenes officials to investigate how the Internet might yield information that can prompt early intervention and potentially prevent mass shootings.

New York City Police Department officials gathered on Dec. 20 to discuss how they can mine online clues in order to spot the next gunman preparing to attempt an attack akin to the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
According to a report in the New York Times, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly indicated that targeted searches for terminology used in communications of mass shooters in the past could help law enforcement surreptitiously interact with the shooter and thwart any plans to inflict harm.

Kelly told the Times that these tactics resemble strategies now in use to detect potential terrorists online. The algorithm would search for "apolitical or deranged killers before they become active shooters," he said.

The NYPD meeting included intelligence leaders within the department, along with other senior police officials. Spokesman Paul Browne also indicated that NYPD officers will be sent to Newtown and other shooting sites to gather data that could help in New York.

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Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter. Follow @GovTechNoelle