This Book Is an Introduction to Crime Analysis

This book is about crime analysis, which means there must be a theory about crime that will guide the teaching and the approach to the job of analyzing crime and criminal behavior. At this point, we are not ready to put forth that theory. However, we can introduce you to the analysis triangle. This triangle will be referred to throughout this book, and it will serve as one of the main illustrations that suggests a theory for linking crime and criminal behavior to external factors. The triangle will be important when discussing the significance of data mining and connecting critical pieces of intelligence together (Figure 1.1).

Analysis triangle as it relates to criminal behavior

Figure 1.1 Analysis triangle as it relates to criminal behavior.

In this analysis triangle, a theory is implicated in the layers of the triangle. The innermost triangle represents the problem facing the crime analyst. To begin to analyze the problem, the crime analyst evaluates and assesses the criminal offender, along with the place (or location) of the criminal offense, and the target or victim of that offense. The outer triangle indicates that there is also a handler, a manager, and a guardian in each offense; each plays a role in the criminal event. Also, each has a set of tools with which they facilitate a criminal offense, prevent a criminal offense, or provide a solution or intelligence regarding a criminal offense.

If you don’t understand this analysis triangle at this juncture, don’t worry about it. As you study this book, its importance in crime analysis will become clearer. However, at this point, it is important to introduce some critical terms and concepts that will be used throughout this book.

Definitions of Terms and Concepts

The first term is intelligence. Intelligence is the data available to, collected by, or disseminated through the tactical crime analyst. The tactical crime analyst is the trained analyst whose job it is to analyze crime and criminal events or offenses in order to provide practical intelligence to police officers, the police command, or the public. Intelligence analysis refers to what the tactical crime analyst does in his or her position: continually evaluating and analyzing data in order to provide the most useful possible information to police officers. SARA is a model that was developed by Professor Herman Goldstein at the University of Wisconsin—Madison to enhance the problem-solving approach to policing. SARA is an acronym that stands for scanning, analysis, response, and assessment.This model will be discussed in detail in later chapters. Real-time setting or real-time crime center refers to the location where many tactical crime analysts have their “office.” A real-time crime center (RTCC) is a room in which the tactical crime analyst has at his or her disposal a bank of computers and extensive websites and data banks that allow access to and analysis of intelligence in order to provide practical and useful on-the-spot information to police officers in the field.

Technology and Crime

This book is about how crime analysts work and what they need to know in order to provide critical and vital information to police officers. Today, technology is advanced enough to allow crime analysts to process and analyze the data at their disposal and feed essential and critical information to police officers and detectives who are on the street working criminal cases. By drawing on millions of bytes of data and knowing what is critical to pass on to the officers in the field, the analyst in the real-time crime center plays a major role in solving crime, preventing terrorism and other criminal acts, and protecting the safety of both citizens and officers.

As a result, crime analysts now play a powerful and essential role in twenty-first-century policing. But in order to do this job, a crime analyst must be properly trained. The job of the crime analyst is not easy. It takes more than a knowledge of computers to do all that crime analysts are expected to do. Some of the tasks of a crime analyst include:

  • • Reviewing all police reports daily with the goal of identifying patterns
  • • Analyzing trends, patterns, and hot spots to let both officers and administrators know about emerging crime in their city or in certain districts
  • • Extracting data from records and asking questions that lead to turning data into useful information
  • • Creating charts, maps, graphs, tables, and other visual products that communicate and transmit useful information to their police departments and the public

Perhaps most importantly, the crime analyst has to serve the needs of the police officers in the field for immediate information and data that will enable them to respond effectively to various situations, such as

  • • Routine domestic violence calls
  • • Shots fired calls
  • • Assault, robbery, and burglary-in-progress calls
  • • Active shooter, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), and hostage situations

It is not just a matter of the crime analyst transmitting raw data to officers in the field in these kinds of situation. Instead, these common, but often dangerous situations require a workup from a tactical crime analyst. A workup is a detailed intelligence product focusing on individuals, locations, and many other critical factors that help the responding officer or investigator to be more fully aware of what he or she is likely to encounter. The skilled tactical crime analyst can provide an intelligence-based workup that may include

  • • Photos
  • • Social media posts
  • • Outstanding warrants
  • • Probation or parole GPS monitoring
  • • Gang intelligence, which can involve known associates, arrest history, and prior weapons possession

It is one thing to be able to mine data; it’s quite another to think like an investigative officer and streamline the massive amount of data available to the tactical crime analyst in order to feed only relevant, crucial information to the officer.

The trained and skilled tactical crime analyst will feed viable information to the investigator so that the investigation moves in the right direction, while avoiding overloading the officer with irrelevant data.

And that’s what this book will train you to do. In the chapters of this book, you will be introduced to all aspects of what crime analysts need to know to be successful. You will learn more about understanding criminal behavior, understanding statistics and interpreting crime statistics, conducting temporal analysis of crime patterns, using spatial analysis to gain a better understanding of crime, applying research methods to crime analysis, evaluating data and information to help predict criminal offending and solve criminal cases (including cold cases), understanding criminal investigations, and using critical thinking.

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