Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, police departments across the country and throughout the world have begun adopting what is known as proactive policing. This term began as a simple theory which utilized concepts such as community policing and statistical formulas to engage and apprehend criminals before they commit a crime. Police chiefs, county sheriffs, and department heads began to realize that time moved on since the days of the “Wild Wild West” and so to have criminals.
Half a century ago, criminals were not as intelligent or as technologically savvy as they are today, namely because of the computer and medical breakthroughs researchers have made. Nowadays, people live longer, have access to healthier foods and dietary supplements, and better education, thereby making it easier for potential criminals to live better lives and develop complex thought-out operations for their next heist.
The law enforcement leaders then recognized the need to find a better way to combat this ever-evolving wave of criminal activities, which eventually lead them to entertain the idea of implementing crime analysis units (CAUs) to assist officers in figuring out where they needed to go to thwart crime before it happens. In order to properly begin a crime analysis unit, one must realize exactly what that unit is, does, will be responsible for, and who they will ultimately answer to. Furthermore, a CAU cannot simply be started by placing a select few in crime analyst positions and expecting them to fulfill the job requirements.
Instead, people who have a high school education, college experience, and strong analytical or math skills should be chosen and given specialized training in the field of crime analysis. So, with that having been stated, what is crime analysis and what can it do for an agency? According to IACA, the International Association of Crime Analysts: Crime analysis is both a profession and a set of techniques. The professionals, who perform crime analysis, and the techniques they use, are dedicated to helping a police department become more effective through better information.
The information that analysts provide can help… olve crimes, develop effective strategies and tactics to prevent future crimes, find and apprehend offenders, prosecute and convict offenders, improve safety and quality of life, optimize internal operations, prioritize patrol and investigation, detect and solve community problems, plan for future resource needs, enact effective policies, and educate the public (What is Crime Analysis, 2011). Now that the basics of what crime analysis CAN do have been identified, the questions that must be asked, according to Intellysis (2013), include:
* Is a crime analysis unit really needed? What’s the difference between crime analysis and intelligence analysis? * What kind of crime analysis is needed… administrative, strategic, or tactical? * What should the mission or motto be for this unit? * Who will be assigned what tasks? How will work be divided? * How many analysts will be needed? * How do we go about hiring an analyst? What will the job entail and what will be the salary? * What should the workspace be like? * What technology, supplies, and equipment will be needed? * What products will the crime analysts produce? * Where should the crime analysis unit be placed within the organizational chart? Will a policy and procedure manual need to be created? * What type of training will be needed for crime analysts?
All questions listed above are relevant and must be asked if an agency is to have any hopes of implementing a crime analysis unit. To answer the first question of necessity, it is up to the individual municipality and agency head to decide whether or not a crime analysis unit is truly needed. In many small cities and towns, the need for such a unit is slim to none; however, with the ever-increasing rate of criminal activity in small areas, that thought is rapidly becoming obsolete.
The second question, regarding the difference between crime analysis and intelligence analysis, lies in the information that is analyzed. Crime analysis deals with ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’, while intelligence analysis maintains the ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘how’, meaning that crime analysts look at individual M. O. s, crime types, and locations, whereas intelligence analysts deal with why something happened, how it happened, who did it, and how can it be prevented. In addition to this, though, there is a third type known as the crime and intelligence analyst, which is essentially a combination of both.
To figure out what type of crime analyst the agency requires, the history of criminal activity and the needs of the entire department must be reviewed. There are three types of crime analysis – tactical, strategic, and administrative. They are explained here: * Tactical Crime Analysis – primarily functions to promote rapid response to immediate criminal activity. This type of analysis should usually be the primary function performed by crime analysts at the local agency level, although it does somewhat depend upon the specific needs of the individual entity itself.
Tactical crime analysis is the area where trends, patterns, and series are identified and modus operandi is linked with offenders. * Strategic Crime Analysis – deals with everyday operational strategies and formulates solutions for problems arising from those operations. This is sometimes known as the analysis that caters to the command staff and city/county government officials, because it can assist with resource allocation, scheduling, patrol area configuration, and analyzes crime versus staffing demands.
* Administrative Crime Analysis – focuses on long-term activity in a certain area (i. . figuring out why crime is high in a certain area, and what needs to be changed to counteract this). Additionally, providing certain information, such as general crime stats for informational purposes to city hall, neighborhood watch groups, and citizens are a large part of administrative crime analysis (CCAA). Anytime a new group or institution is put into place, one of the first things that must be considered is where that group is going? What will be their primary focus or goal? Mission statements vary across the country, from agency to agency, but a few things remain the same.
In any mission statement for a crime analysis unit, the very first words should read “The overall objective” or “The mission of the crime analysis unit,” or at least something along those lines. This lets readers know that what is coming next will be what your unit is going to be all about. This is the area where the proposal can be viewed either positively, or pushed aside because the goals do not seem achievable, or they are not seen as highly valuable. Therefore, this statement should be well-organized, attention-grabbing, concise, yet fully inclusive of all major objectives.
Here’s an example: The mission of the Crime Analysis Unit (CAU) at Make Believe Police Department is to collect, collate, analyze, and prepare criminal / criminal intelligence data to be disseminated to patrol officers and investigators as reinforcement for the proactive policing initiative. The unit will identify emerging crime trends, patterns, and series and make recommendations to the appropriate personnel for prompt response, and potentially link offenders to criminal activity, assisting with bringing said offenders to justice.
The citizens of the City of Make Believe will also benefit from the Crime Analysis Unit, as it will be available to assist the public in the retrieval of crime statistics and information on high-crime areas. When reviewing potential tasks a crime analyst will be responsible for, it is important to note that each agency has different needs; therefore, each agency will need analysts to do different things.
In the same light, it is also up to the individual agency as to how many crime analysts will actually be needed; however, it is recommended by Intellysis that there be at least one analyst per every 100,000 citizens (Starting a Crime Analysis Unit, 2013). On the other hand, the University of South Alabama’s Center for Public Safety recommends that there should be about one crime analyst for every one-hundred sworn personnel (O’Shea and Nicholls, 2002, p. 13). At most agencies, hiring requirements for a crime analyst are elevated because it is considered a highly analytical and professional position.
As such, the minimum education and experience usually required for consideration is a Bachelor’s Degree in either criminal justice, criminology, mathematics, or a related field and at least one year of experience as a crime analyst or two years in a related field. In some agencies, the hiring party may consider a candidate who does not have a Bachelor’s Degree, but does have extensive experience in law enforcement, vice versa, or an equivalent combination of both. As far as salary is concerned, this is also up to the individual municipality.
This is something that will be based upon funding, actual necessity, complexity of the work to be performed, and the combined experience/education of the person(s) to be hired. Generally, though, the annual salary of a crime analyst is thought to be between $28,852 and $68,138 with a median income of $39,493 according to Payscale’s national crime analyst salary website (2013). In most units, crime analysts will be responsible for tactical, strategic, and administrative analysis, as well as completing public requests for assistance.