Administrative Crime Analysis: Low-Priority Analysis?
Administrative crime analysis has, according to some experts in the field (Bruce, 2008), received a bad rap over the years. It has been suggested that it is a low-priority category (Bruce, 2008). On the other hand, this is a type of crime analysis that may, in fact, keep many analysts employed. As Christopher Bruce (2008) points out, having an individual in the police department who can answer virtually any question, provide information on demand, and arrange data in an appealing format is of tremendous value. Also, when the products of an administrative crime analyst might substantially affect public safety or lower crime, both the product and the analyst become valuable assets.
How Administrative Crime Analysts Gather Data
While a great deal of the data that administrative crime analysts may use in preparing reports and presentations may come from the data contained in police files, because of the nature of many of the products of the administrative crime analyst, qualitative information is often useful.
For example, if the analyst was asked to put together a presentation on police-community relationships over the past three years, there may be just a few traditional police reports related to this assignment. If there were reports about incidents in which the police were the target of violent protests, or if there were formal complaints to the department about police brutality, the analyst may be able to find those reports and use them as data. However, in order to put together a more comprehensive report, the analyst may need to use qualitative methods, such as interviews, focus groups, researching archived newspaper stories, or reading public email forums or blogs by local residents.
The analyst may interview patrol officers or officers who might work in the community policing unit. Asking them questions and getting their candid views of the state of police-community relations and how it has changed over the past three years may yield valuable insights. Similarly, putting together focus groups of police officers or community leaders may also produce important observations and recommendations. However, newspapers usually have their fingers on the pulse of the community, and exploring newspaper stories and editorials over the past three years may give the analyst a broad perspective of how the police are viewed by the community.
Newspapers and news broadcasts, as well as Internet forums and blogs, are likely to show with much more insight what is important to the citizens in the local community. Then, after gathering information about what has been printed or said in Internet forums or blogs, the analyst can compare this with the messages, mission statements, and stated goals of the police administration to provide an accurate picture of what the true state of police-community relations is at present, what it’s been over the past three years, and what still needs to be done to improve it.
In regard to the qualitative research method to gather the kinds of data we have used in this example, the analyst should have access to LexisNexis as a comprehensive database. If there are certain Internet blogs that would provide a steady stream of possible useful information, the analyst might best follow them. To find those blogs in the first place, there are Google directions for doing so at https://support. google.com/blogger/answer/104226?hl=en. In addition, an analyst can figure out what topics are trending using Twitter or other tools: http://blog.hootsuite.com/5-ways-find-trending-topics/. Finally, there is a database called iPoll that can be searched by topic to find opinion polls on all kinds of subjects from many different sources (https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/CFIDE/cf/action/ipoll/index.cfm).