Time-Event Charting and Link Analysis
Follow-up investigations often result in the accumulation of significant amounts of data. As a result, financial transactions, relationships, places, events, telephone calls, and other data can be obscured and their importance overlooked, resulting in an unnecessarily lengthened or even truncated investigation. Software has been generated that creates a variety of charts, saving investigative time and effort for other uses. Two commonly used investigative tools to offer shortcuts for crime investigators are time-event charting and link analysis.
A time-event chart depicts in graphic form the chronology of an individual’s or a group’s activities. A time-event chart is simply a timeline that offers investigators a way to focus on individual incidents in order to develop a general, graphic overview of a crime. In this sense, a time-event chart answers the question “What were this individual’s activities leading up to a crime?”
Link analysis refers to analyzing relationships among people or organizations and is used to find matches in data for known patterns of interest, find anomalies where known patterns are violated, and discover new patterns of interest.
In intelligence work for police departments and investigators, one of the major goals of data mining is to discover patterns, links, and relationships hidden in the data. By discovering relationships— links—intelligence analysts may be able to provide detectives with valuable leads in unsolved cases.
As this chapter clearly indicates, intelligence is essential in modern police work, especially in criminal investigations. Given the importance of an intelligence unit being part of the investigative team, Chapter 6 will go into more detail about how intelligence is collected.