Goals of Tactical Crime Analysis

Four goals of tactical crime analysis are (1) linking cases together and identifying crime patterns and trends as soon as possible, (2) analyzing patterns discovered to identify potential suspects of a crime or crime pattern, (3) notifying the police department about the existence of patterns and suspects as soon as possible, and (4) working with the police agency to develop the best tactics to address the pattern and clear the case (Boba, 2001).

The Tactical Crime Analyst Working in Real Time

When working in real time, especially at a real-time crime center, analysts who work directly with their law enforcement counterparts do so from a tactical perspective. With law enforcement working as a paramilitary organization, analysts assigned to real-time centers, working in concert with law enforcement, should follow a para-law enforcement ideology.

In the following, Glenn Grana explains the role of tactical analysts:

In the agency where I work as a tactical analyst supervisor, I am often asked what a tactical analyst does?

My response is that a tactical analyst is an analyst who can rapidly data mine, and analyze information and intelligence from multiple data sources, while applying his or her understanding of the theories and practices that law enforcement follow in order to create a unique analytical process that works as a real-time extension of the investigative process. When successful, this creates a symbiotic relationship between the two parties. This comes down to a mutual understanding.

Analysts working tactically, as tactual analysts, must shadow certain procedures that law enforcement implement as a working protocol, such as working within the prescribed investigative process and understanding the rules of evidence, to cite two examples. However, this can only work if the tactical analyst fully understands his or her law enforcement counterpart’s methodology and ideology, and, in turn, the law enforcement counterpart fully understands him or her.

The tactical analyst needs to have:

  • • A basic understanding of law enforcement principles
  • • An understanding of criminal behavior
  • • Experience in crisis management protocol (in order to assist during crisis situations)
  • • A grasp of the real-time process of investigations

On the other hand, law enforcement needs to understand the analytical process and the intelligence available to the analyst.

Understanding is key to tactical analysts doing their job, mainly because crime analysts are primarily civilians who, unlike their law enforcement partners, have not been trained to multitask during a real-time or crisis situation. The need—and urgency—for immediate information, and actionable intelligence, is crucial to the successful handling of real-time situations. Training, therefore, for both the analyst and law enforcement, is critical in order for both parties to achieve the success needed to work together to establish a fluid investigative process.

While traditional crime analysis often relies on the analyst to methodically pour over data in order to form conclusions relevant to crime patterns or trends, this process, while frequently effective, is also time-consuming. The analysts working in a tactical role, in real time, need to rapidly data mine, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence as the situation, crime, or investigation is unfolding. Time is of the essence in most situations.

Understanding the process of investigation that their law enforcement counterpart is following would help to expedite the analytical process. Having a basic understanding as to what investigative process the investigator is following can help the tactical analyst in the data mining of relevant information and transitioning that information into actionable intelligence. Once the relevant intelligence is forwarded to the investigator, it helps to keep the investigative process moving or, depending on what the information revealed, change the course of the investigation in order to set it on a more focused path. This can occur when the analyst understands the investigative mindset of the investigator he or she is assisting.

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