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I Crime and the Twenty-First Century

The Crime Problem

Chapter Outline

  • 1. The crime problem
  • 2. Who is concerned about crime?
  • 3. Who benefits from the United States having a crime problem?
  • 4. Who really wants to see crime reduced or eliminated?
  • 5. Technology and crime
  • 6. This book and the crime problem

Learning Objectives for Chapter 1

  • 1. Become familiar with the crime problem
  • 2. Understand who is concerned about crime and why
  • 3. Discuss the perceptions and goals of the major players in the criminal justice system
  • 4. Better understand law enforcement approaches to the crime problem
  • 5. Become familiar with concepts and approaches found in this book
  • 6. Learn about intelligence, crime analysis, the crime analysis triangle, and the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) analysis model

An elementary school with hundreds of young children is placed on lockdown because a dangerous-sounding man has phoned violent threats to the school office. Immediately, as vague details are posted on social media, parents and other citizens in the school district are suddenly fearful of what could happen. This worst-case scenario recently occurred at an elementary school in Rochester, New York.

With the clock ticking, and the elusive suspect’s threatening phone calls increasing, with details of his threats unnerving law enforcement, a profile needed to be established to identify the who, what, where, and why of this potential deadly scenario. But who is responsible to piece together the investigative puzzle?

Clearly, aggressive real-time data mining and rapid dissemination of intelligence is critical to assist the police as the case continues to unfold. The answer, as you will learn in this book, is that it is the tactical crime analyst who is responsible for providing enough information for a disaster to be averted.

In law enforcement, success can be measured in many different ways. Often, and particularly in this elementary school crisis, success may be measured simply in terms of the number of lives saved. Thanks to the tactical crime analyst working this case in the Rochester, New York, real-time crime center, the crisis was successfully resolved—and hundreds of young lives were saved.

But how the tactical crime analyst accomplished this success was entirely dependent on the process that analyst followed.

As a crime analyst, the success you have on your job rests entirely on the process that you follow. The most critical stage in this process is the analytical stage—the stage in which intelligence is gathered. Then, that intelligence is disseminated to law enforcement. But in this case only priority intelligence was relayed to the police, who in turned transmitted that intelligence to officers at the scene.

Analysis has always played a pivotal role in the success of crisis management incidents. Even as critical pieces of information are discovered during the initial collection and verification process, what can be lost, at times, are crucial pieces of information that may lead to a better understanding of the suspect’s mindset, his or her motives, and—as happened in Rochester, New York—a peaceful resolution.

The use of a real-time crime analyst, one who can rapidly analyze information and intelligence obtained from multiple data sources while applying his or her understanding of the theories and practices that law enforcement practitioners are trained in, can help to create a unique analytical process. The process that you will learn about in this book will help to establish—and solidify—the credibility and importance of the tactical crime analyst working in a real-time crime environment.

But before tactical crime analysts can contribute to these types of dynamic investigations, they need to be able to draw upon training and experience in order to assist them with their critical need for understanding of the investigative process, the intelligence examination process, and the analytical process, which is required to work effectively and proficiently, in real time, with their law enforcement partners.

This first chapter begins this process by introducing you to the fundamentals of understanding the crime problem and the technological aspects involved with combining the process of criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and crime analysis. It will also introduce you to how the role of the traditional crime analyst is evolving into a dynamic hybrid role of the real-time tactical analyst—the person who incorporates all of the aforementioned skill sets while working crime in a real-time setting.

Michael Brown, an African American, was 18 when he was shot to death by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old Caucasian, on August 9, 2014. There were disputed circumstances in this shooting incident that resulted in nationwide protests and civil unrest in the small town of Ferguson. The incident sparked vigorous debate about how the police deal with African American suspects. A grand jury failed to indict Officer Wilson, and he was not charged with a crime.

Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old woman, stood on the front porch of a home in suburban Detroit in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013. The homeowner, a 55-year-old airport maintenance worker named Theodore Wafer, opened the inside front door and fired a single shotgun blast that killed Ms. McBride. Several months later, after a trial, a jury convicted Mr. Wafer, a Caucasian, of murder, and he was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison for killing the unarmed woman, who was African American.

At the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2:49 p.m. as runners were racing toward the finish line. Three people were killed and 264 were injured. The suspects were identified within three days as Chechen brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After the suspects killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology policeman and carjacked an SUV, there was an exchange of gunfire with the police and Tamerlan, shot several times, was killed. Several hours later, Dzhokhar was captured. He went on trial in 2015, was found guilty of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and the malicious destruction of property resulting in death, and was sentenced to be executed.

On January 27, 2014, Matthew Smith, age 31, of Mohave Valley, Arizona, was sentenced by a U.S. district judge to 35 years in prison for the second-degree murder, child abuse, and assault of two of his stepchildren. The assaults and murder occurred on the Fort Mohave Indian reservation.

Jeremiah Mazoli was charged in Eugene, Oregon, with the theft of two laptop computers and a guitar from a fraternity on the campus of the University of Oregon. He pled guilty to second-degree burglary.

Introduction

All of five of these incidents are real. You may have heard about one or more of them, but probably not all five. Crime happens every day in this country. Some of it is relatively minor, such as the laptop computer and guitar thefts in Eugene, Oregon. Some of it is major, such as the shooting deaths of Renisha McBride and Michael Brown, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the abuse and murder of children in Mohave Valley, Arizona.

Because we see and hear about crimes on televised news shows and read about them in our daily newspapers, we are all very much aware that crime exists. But you may have been the victim of a crime yourself, or you may know someone who has been a crime victim. And while you may be fortunate to simply have heard about what has happened to other people, you may still be very concerned about crime. You may even have voiced your opinion—in a conversation or on your own blog—about the “crime problem” in the United States.

In Chapter 2, we will discuss how much crime actually occurs in this country, but in this chapter, we address this fundamental question: is there a crime problem in this country?

 
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