ArcGIS is a GIS software program developed by ESRI, a California-based company that has been specializing in GIS since 1969. Now used by more police departments than any other GIS software, ArcGIS gives a police agency the ability to take data from CAD or RMS, give the data a geographic location, and put them on a map.
This result does not happen automatically, and an intelligence analyst will need to be trained in the geocoding process—the process of assigning an actual location on a map based on the address given— before the information appears on a map in a usable format. Once that happens, though, the crime analyst can conduct a spatial analysis of crimes (often referred to as hot spot identification) and find other valuable information.
Working the Collected Data Using Data Sets
Most often, in order to properly use data, the crime analyst or intelligence analyst will need to access data from a variety of sources. Too often, data stored in RMS or CAD were not created to suit the needs of crime analysis. Therefore, data sets must be used to begin an analysis. The primary data sources for the crime analysis will come from RMS, CAD, and ArcGIS. And the most commonly sought data include incident reports, arrest records, calls for service, and accident reports. The intelligence analyst must be able to connect to the database when he or she needs the information.
This chapter has addressed the basic question related to what we know about crime. In the chapter, we discussed the processes of crime collection, how crime is measured, and the utilization of statistics in order to learn more about crime and examine crime patterns. The highway shooter investigation mentioned at the beginning of the chapter is an excellent example of how the processes that involve the organizing, collecting, and disseminating of information proved to be relevant—as all of these processes played a critical role in the investigation.
The intelligence and statistical information used during the GIS process also played a predominant role in the CompStat meetings that were held during the span in which the crimes were being committed and investigated.
The highway shooter case also involved a complex procedure of crime analysis that relied heavily on the aid of technology. As a result, the analysis supplied to the investigators included the total understanding of a wide range of computer systems and programs, combined with the criminal investigative thought process—a process that will be discussed in detail in later chapters. The overall process of analysis was crucial in order to effectively disseminate the raw data that were extrapolated from the various systems in order to come up with a theory that could be used to create a workable, strategic, tactical plan.
Investigations that deal with immediate public safety concerns, such as the highway shooter case, usually involve a large volume of intelligence having to be analyzed at a rapid pace. Although the highway shooter was not identified in that investigation, the investigative team, which was composed of several police agencies, utilized crime and tactical analysis as a means to stay on pace with the investigation while keeping the flow of information fluid between agencies.