Police Operations Crime Analysis

Chapter Outline

1. What is police operations crime analysis?

a. Definition of police operations crime analysis

b. Focus of operations analysis

c. Differences from other types of crime analysis

2. What police operations analysts do

a. Data analyzed

b. Audience for police operations analysts’ reports

c. Reports produced

3. Police operations analysis and its methods

a. Analyzing police data

b. Qualitative methods

4. Police operations analysis reporting

a. Types of reports

b. Examples of reports and recommendations

5. Conclusion

a. End result of police operations analysis

b. Looking ahead to the next chapter

Learning Objectives for Chapter 15

  • 1. Understand police operations analysis
  • 2. Be able to differentiate police operations analysis from other types of crime analysis
  • 3. Learn about the various data analyzed in operations analysis
  • 4. Know the audience for police operations analysis reports

The Ontario Police Department does not currently maintain any dedicated detective personnel or criminal investigations unit. Additionally, there is no single supervisor designated to supervise and coordinate the efforts of all patrol officers conducting extended investigations or follow-ups. Officers will coordinate, to whatever degree possible, investigative efforts bearing similar offender characteristics or modus operandi. All investigations maintained in-house by the OPD are investigated by patrol officers.... This organizational structure is contrary to best practices, marginalizes patrol effectiveness and agility, and facilitates recidivism as investigative resources are necessarily limited by the ongoing demands placed upon patrol. It is not reasonable to assume that patrol officers are either equipped or available to conduct criminal investigations in a manner that would increase clearance rates and thus appreciably reduce crime. OPD staffing should be increased to provide at least three full-time detectives to investigate crimes within Ontario city limits. These detectives should not be affiliated with any task force. Additionally, a revised Table of Organization, described elsewhere in this document, would provide defined supervision for these detectives and better coordination of effort between patrol, detectives, and any OPD personnel assigned to a task force or specialized unit external to the OPD.

The three detectives should receive advanced training in investigative techniques including general principles of investigation, interview and interrogation, crime scene processing, and the collection and preservation of evidence. OPD should then provide the necessary equipment for these detectives to carry out their duties.

Under current practice, OPD assigns a patrol officer to respond to a reported crime. Typically, that officer will remain as the primary investigating officer. The department does have one patrol officer with expertise in computer-related crime, but the officer does not have any formal certifications. There is also one officer certified as a drug recognition expert, or DRE. Reporting thresholds, such as the value of a stolen item, are not used in determining whether an incident will receive additional investigation.

ICMA (2014, p. 41)


Police operations analysis describes the study of a police department’s policies and practices—including its allocation of personnel, money, equipment, and other resources, geographically, organizationally, and temporally—and whether these operations and policies have the most effective influence on crime and disorder in the jurisdiction. Operations analysis is often defined as the analysis of police operations, including workload distribution by area and shift (IACA, 2014).

By defining operations analysis as concerning itself with a police department’s policies and practices, it is relatively easy to see how this type of crime analysis differs from the other types of crime analysis that have been discussed in this book: tactical crime analysis, strategic crime analysis, and administrative crime analysis. However, operations analysis goes hand in hand with strategic crime analysis, as many operations decisions (including geographic and temporal allocation of officers) are based on long-term crime trends.

Because many operations analysis tasks require good evaluative research, analysts who engage in it should have a solid understanding of social science research methods (Bruce, 2008). Some questions that operations analysis might seek to answer are

  • • What is the best way for the police agency to divide the city into beats?
  • • What is the optimal allocation of officers per shift?
  • • What effect has the department’s mandatory arrest policy for misdemeanor domestic assault had on domestic violence recidivism?
  • • Can the agency justify a request for more police officers?
  • • How much time and money would the department save if it enacted a policy that limited its response to unverified burglar alarms (Bruce, 2008)?

What Techniques and Methods Are Used by Operations Analysis?

The techniques associated with these processes are varied, but basically involve police records, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data, and several qualitative research methods.

Analysts who perform operations analysis tasks may begin by looking at the calls for service and raw data from the department’s dispatch system. By sorting and analyzing service calls, the data can be compared with that of other cities the same size. But there are a number of areas that are usually critical to an analysis of operations— response times, workload of patrol officers, and peak times of the most critical calls.

Following a look at dispatch data, the analyst might collect and review a number of key operational documents. These operational documents often include the police department’s policies and procedures manual, a list of the department’s assets, and personnel lists.

The qualitative methods will include interviews, often with the police department’s management and supervisors, as well as rank- and-file officers. In some instances, there may be interviews with the mayor, the city council, and other city staff. Other qualitative approaches will include observations, surveys, and focus groups.

Depending on the exact nature of a particular operations assignment, the analyst will be looking for strengths, weaknesses, deficiencies, and under- or overutilized staff, related to each unit and the department as a whole. What the analyst will want to determine based on the analysis of data is whether the department’s operations are comparable to those of departments in other similarly sized cities, and whether the department is effectively and adequately meeting the needs of the community.

Often, the data provided by the police agency will be compared with information obtained from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, where the amount of crime in various categories can be compared with the city being analyzed.

Many times, operations analysis will rely on intensive interviews with the police department’s personnel to determine the effectiveness of operations, morale, and even such things as the labor management climate in this particular department.

As you learned in Chapter 13, focus groups are unstructured group interviews in which the analyst actively encourages discussion among participants. A focus group can be helpful to explore issues that are difficult to define. Group discussion permits greater exploration of topics, and various police department staff might be asked to sit in and contribute to a focus group.

Analysts might solicit and collect documents from the police agency related to strategic plans, personnel staffing and deployment, evaluations, training records, and performance statistics. These kinds of documents will be helpful for the analyst to determine whether there is adequate staff (particularly at critical times of the day or night), whether officers are deployed to hot spots, whether officers are being adequately trained for the duties they are expected to carry out, and whether the performance evaluations are utilized to make personnel decisions.

Finally, observations can be carried out by the analyst to see how patrol officers carry out their assignments, whether special enforcement duties are done, how officers handle special event assignments, how detectives work investigations, and how trainings are conducted.

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