What Use Does the Tactical Crime Analyst Have for Criminological Theories?

Obviously, if the tactical crime analyst is working in a real-time crime center (RTCC) and a crisis arises—say, with the example we used in Chapter 2 of the gunman who is shooting at passing cars on a freeway; or, in another scenario, a bank robbery gone wrong in which a would-be bank robber is trapped in a bank with one or more hostages—it perhaps doesn’t really matter what criminological theory the crime analyst in the RTCC subscribes to. His or her job is not to come up with the motivation as to why a gunman is shooting at cars or why a man tried to rob a bank. The task he or she is presented with is to get facts and intelligence to the officers on the scene so that the gunman can be apprehended without any passing motorists being victimized, or so that the hostage crisis is resolved with no harm to the hostages in the bank or the officers surrounding the bank.

However, it would behoove crime and intelligence analysts to gain a thorough understanding of how and why crime and disorder occur if they are to be involved in the process of intervention and prevention. In fulfilling their role in assisting law enforcement through the analysis of crime and disorder problems, there will be times when a familiarity with criminological theories will be important in addressing a particular crime problem. We suggest that analyzing the reasons why a particular criminal is engaging in a series of offenses may be vital in contributing to law enforcement efforts to solve a crime problem or apprehend an offender.

In the next sections, we review several police strategies created as intervention and prevention efforts to directly address the crime problem. These models and methods can be part of the general knowledge of crime analysts in carrying out their various functions.

The predominant models and methods to address crime problem issues are:

  • • The standard model
  • • Community policing
  • • Broken windows
  • • Problem-oriented policing
  • • Intelligence-led policing

Crime and intelligence analysis, including real-time tactical analysis, plays a crucial role in several methods of policing that are intended to address the issues of crime and why it continues to occur. A more detailed discussion of these five models and methods follows.

The Standard Model

In terms of the general publics perception of how law enforcement goes about its business within a community, the standard model offers the closest description of that perception. As is painted on the sides of most marked police cars in America, “To serve and to protect” is the general mission statement that all—or nearly all— American law enforcement agencies have adopted.

The ideology' best associated with this mantra can be found within the “reactive, incident-driven standard model of policing” (Weisburd, Telep, Hinkle, and Eck, 2010, p. 140; see also National Research Council, 2004; Weisburd and Eck, 2004). In the standard model, law enforcement provides services, primarily based on 911 calls, and then investigates those calls for service as they are dispatched. Therefore, the standard model is a reactive form of policing.

From the analysts’ perspective, success is measured through a variety of statistical conclusions, such as analyzing the response times of the calls for service and tallying the number of arrests made during the total number of incidents dispatched and investigated. These conclusions are then used to justify managerial decisions; for instance, determining when to increase the uniform presence to areas prone to a higher volume of crime, or determining strategy to identify factors needed to aid in crime solvability'. More importantly, these statistical conclusions help in identifying the underlying motivations involved in why individuals continue to commit crime.

Community Policing

When law enforcement includes the input of the community when creating strategies to combat crime problems and related social issues, they are acting within the framework that supports community' policing.The ideology central to the success of community policing is the notion that “reinvigorating communities is essential if we are to deter crime and create more vital neighborhoods” (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994, p. 1).

In order to work proactively to prevent crime and the problems associated with social discord, community' policing relies heavily on a symbiotic relationship between law enforcement and its community partners. For this relationship to thrive, it is imperative to have a steady flow of information, combined with regular meetings and personal interactions, between the two parties in order to properly address issues related to crime and disorder.

From the analysts’ perspective, specific issues identified and raised by community leaders can help in the analytical exploration of why these issues are occurring. Identifying specific issues can help law enforcement with analysis and conclusions that can be used to understand more clearly the crime-related issues that have affected the community as a whole.

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