IV Crime Analysis

History and Types of Crime Analysis


  • 1 History of crime analysis
  • 2 Different types of contemporary law enforcement analysis
  • 3 Categories of crime analysis

a Tactical crime analysis

b Strategic crime analysis

c Administrative crime analysis

d Police operations analysis

4 Tactical crime analysis

a Definition

b Descriptions

c The tactical crime analyst working in a real-time crime center

d Training of the tactical analyst

5 Strategic crime analysis

a Definition

b Description

6 Administrative crime analysis

a Definition

b Description

7 Police operations analysis

a Definition

b Description

Learning Objectives for Chapter 10

  • 1 Gain an understanding of the history of crime analysis
  • 2 Be able to place crime analysis in a historical context
  • 3 Understand the major types of crime analysis
  • 4 Be able to differentiate the goals and purposes of each type of crime analysis

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel, in bringing about the London Metropolitan Police in London, England, developed a set of principles for good policing. One of these principles was “to recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them” (Schneider, 2015, p. 334). In other words, Peel believed that it wasn’t arrests or use of force that made for good, effective policing. It was that the police would prevent crime and disorder in the first place, rather than deal with responding to and solving crimes.


The earliest use of the term crime analysis can be found in the second edition of O.W. Wilsons book Police Administration (1963). In this book, Wilson, who was the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department from 1960 to 1971, as well as serving as police chief in other cities, writes:

The crime-analysis section studies daily reports of serious crimes in order to determine the location, time, special characteristics, similarities to other criminal attacks, and various significant factors that might help to identify either a criminal or the existence of a pattern of criminal activity. Such information is helpful in planning the operations of a division or district.

(Wilson, 1963, p. 103)

Even though the term crime analysis might not have been used prior to Wilsons use of it in 1963, it seems likely that the practice of crime analysis actually goes back to the nineteenth century, although some criminal justice historians might effectively argue that it dates back to the beginning of society. While that is debatable, and while it depends on how you define

crime analysis, it seems more certain that August Vollmer, who has been called “the father of American policing,” seemed to be describing some of the early uses of crime analysis when he talked about pin mapping, the regular review of police reports, and the formation of patrol districts based on crime volume (Oliver, 2008). Serving as chief of police in Berkeley, California, from 1905 to 1932, Vollmer was an innovator who was among the first police chiefs to introduce police radios, fingerprints, modus operand!, and beat analysis, saying that “on the assumption of regularity of crime and similar occurrences by area within a city ... thus determine the points which have the greatest danger of such crimes and what points have the least danger” (Stering, 2008, p. 49).

But we can go back even further to trace the beginnings of crime analysis. Rudimentary forms of crime analysis can be discovered in the work of the London Metropolitan Police, founded by Sir Robert Peel in 1829. By the 1840s, the London Metropolitan Police designated some officers as detectives, but in 1877, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) was formed and 200 detectives were hired; and hundreds more were hired and assigned to police districts within the city of London by 1883. However, even in the 1840s, the few detectives who were assigned to different boroughs in London were likely using some “modern” methods of crime analysis to link different crimes into patterns (Strickland, 2013). In addition, the concept of modus operandi and classifying offenses and crimes based on MO were taking place in the second half of the nineteenth century (Strickland, 2013).

Between 1973 and 1977, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) in the United States published a series of manuals on crime analysis. Recognizing the growing importance of crime analysis, it became one of the four facets of the LEAAs Integrated Criminal Apprehension Program (ICAP).

Then, in the 1990s, there was a surge of activities related to crime analysis. Herman Goldstein, professor emeritus at the University ofWisconsin— Madison Law School, published his book Problem-Oriented Policing (1990). Problem-oriented policing is a policing strategy that involves the identification and analysis of specific crime and disorder problems, in order to develop effective response strategies. Goldstein suggested replacing what he termed the reactive, incident-driven “standard model of policing” with problem-oriented policing—an approach requiring police to be proactive in identifying underlying problems that can be targeted to reduce crime and disorder at their roots (Weisburd,Telep, Hinkle, and Eck, 2008). Goldsteins model was expanded in 1987 by John E. Eck and William Spelman into the SARA model for problem-solving.

Eck and Spelman (1987) developed a 12-step model of what problem-oriented policing agencies should do:

  • 1 Focus on problems of concern to the public.
  • 2 Zero in on effectiveness as the primary concern.
  • 3 Be proactive.
  • 4 Be committed to systematic inquiry as a first step in solving substantive problems.
  • 5 Encourage the use of rigorous methods in making inquiries.
  • 6 Make full use of the data in police files and the experience of police personnel.
  • 7 Group like incidents together so that they can be addressed as a common problem.
  • 8 Avoid using overly broad labels in grouping incidents so separate problems can be identified.
  • 9 Encourage a broad and uninhibited search for solutions.
  • 10 Acknowledge the limits of the criminal justice system as a response to problems.
  • 11 Identify multiple interests in any one problem and weigh them when analyzing the value of different responses.
  • 12 Be committed to taking some risks in responding to problems.
  • (Eck and Spelman, 1987, p. 3)

Eck and Spelman (1987) indicate that under the traditional system of policing, a patrol officer might answer repeated calls to a certain problem area or “hot spot” and deal only with each individual incident. Under problem-oriented policing, however, that officer would be encouraged to discover the root cause of the problem and come up with ways of solving it. The goal would be to find a cure for the ailment instead of merely treating the symptoms. Eck and Spelman also point out that there is a difference between community-oriented policing and problem-oriented policing. The main focus of community-oriented policing is an improvement of the relationship between law enforcement and citizens, while problem-oriented policing depends on information from citizens and a good relationship with the community.

In 1990, the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) was founded, and a year later it held its first conference. Today, the IACA has more than 2500 members from 45 different countries. The IACA offers an annual training conference, and the conference, held in different cities around the United States, features several days of training in crime analysis and policing topics. In 2011, the IACA offered its first annual international symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia. The purpose of the symposium each year is to bring crime analysis training to different parts of the globe. In addition, the IACA’s Professional Training Series provides classes in the fundamentals of crime analysis, crime mapping, computer applications, tactical analysis, problem analysis, and special topics at different locations around the United States. Hundreds of analysts have attended Professional Training Series classes over the last several years.

The IACA also offers a Certified Law Enforcement Analyst (CLEA) credential, available since 2005. The CLEA allows police departments to feel confident that an individual with a CLEA certification possesses a demonstrated proficiency in crime analysis skills.

The California Department of Justice has also provided a certificate program in crime analysis; however, this certification program began in 1992—13 years before the certificate program offered by IACA. Offered through various California universities and colleges, such as California State University, Fullerton, the Crime and Intelligence Analysis Certificate provides specialized training in how to identify and define crime trends, identify crime problems and patterns, and use research and analysis to create tactics and strategies that lead to an effective police response. Graduates receive a certificate from the California Department of Justice designating them as a Certified Crime and Intelligence Analyst. The certification is generally recognized in other states.

In 1994, the CompStat program began in the New York City Police Department (NYPD). CompStat may be short for “computer statistics” or “comparative statistics”—nobody can be sure which, according to its inventor, NYPD deputy commissioner Jack Maple (Dussault, 1999). CompStat is a performance management system that is used to reduce crime and achieve other police department goals. The program emphasizes information sharing, responsibility and accountability, and improving effectiveness. It includes four generally recognized core components:

  • 1 Timely and accurate information or intelligence
  • 2 Rapid deployment of resources
  • 3 Effective tactics
  • 4 Relentless follow-up (PERF, 2013)

The most widely recognized element of CompStat is its regularly occurring meetings where department executives and officers discuss and analyze crime problems and the strategies used to address those problems. Often, department leaders will select commanders from a specific geographic area to attend each CompStat meeting.

In the early 1990s, crime was a central concern for New York City residents, and the issue of crime played a prominent role in the city’s 1993

mayoral election. Lou Anemone, the NYPD’s chief of department (top uniformed officer) in 1994, said that during the early 1990s,“there was very bad violent crime and pervasive fear of crime in the community, and this likely contributed to Mayor David Dinkins’ loss to Rudy Giuliani in 1993” (PERF,2012,p. 3).After his victory at the polls, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with his pick for police commissioner, Bill Bratton, laid out his vision for New York City: They would make the city safe, reduce fear of crime, and improve the overall quality of life.

Commissioner Bratton thought there were some problems to making New York City safer. One problem was that crime statistics were collected for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—not for timely crime analysis. Another problem was that the NYPD did not have any broad, police department—wide focus on preventing crime (PERF, 2013). And it was also recognized within the NYPD that it was dispatchers at headquarters, who were the lowest-ranking people in the department, who, in effect, controlled field operations. All police officers seemed to be spending most of their time responding to 911 calls.There was literally no free time for officers to focus on crime prevention (PERF, 2012). This situation wasn’t unique to New York City. Police officers in many cities were answering emergency calls and responding to crimes that had already been committed. Furthermore, their effectiveness was judged in terms of response times, arrest statistics, and clearance rates. For the most part, the police were simply not held accountable for preventing crime. And that went against the basic dictum of Sir Robert Peel in 1830 in London. Peel said back then that his police should be responsible not for arrests so much as for preventing crime (Archbold, 2013). In the 1920s in Berkeley, California, Chief of Police August Vollmer said the same thing (Oliver, 2008). But most police departments had forgotten the most fundamental tenet of the two most influential founders of modern policing—that prevention was a key to effective policing.

Perhaps Bratton remembered what Peel and Vollmer had said about the duties of the police. Maybe not. Anyway, Bratton and his command staff wanted to change the focus of the NYPD and begin to pay attention to crime prevention. With that goal in mind, they created and implemented the new data-driven performance measurement system they eventually called CompStat. Chief Bratton described the earliest version of CompStat as a system to track crime statistics and have police respond to those statistics. The new focus on crime prevention and implementation of CompStat represented a major shift for the NYPD. Instead of dealing with reducing police corruption, which they had done since the 1970s, now it was time to ask an important question: How can we reduce crime? There may have been a prevailing belief that in New York City—as well as elsewhere—the police couldn’t do anything about crime (PERF, 2013). However, it seemed clear to Bratton and his commanders that the community wanted the police to do something about the high crime rate.

The four core components of CompStat were developed by NYPD deputy commissioner Jack Maple, whom New York Magazine called “perhaps the most creative cop in history” (Horowitz, 2001, n.p.).With the principles of CompStat in place, the NYPD began exploring methods to gather and share timely intelligence. To start mapping crime, the department received money from the New York City Police Foundation for the purchase of mapping materials. However, because of the huge volume of crime, leaders quickly decided that a computerized mapping program was required. Jack Maple purchased a computer from Radio Shack, and the name CompStat was born (Horowitz, 2001). The NYPD began to make use of their own crime statistics and track indicators of problems, such as the locations of crime victims and gun arrests.

By 1996, the NYPD—for the first time in its history—was using crime statistics and regular meetings of key enforcement personnel to direct its enforcement efforts. Since then, the commanders of the NYPD—and other police departments around the country—watch weekly crime trends with the same hawk-like attention private corporations pay to profits and loss. Crime statistics have become almost every police departments bottom line. It’s the best indicator of how the police are doing precinct by precinct and citywide.

As the NYPD honed in on solving crime problems, CompStat meetings became less of a numbers discussion and more of a tactical and strategic discussion (Smith and Bratton, 2001). Moreover, police administrators realized that CompStat shouldn’t analyze just the performance of precinct commanders, and began including detectives and representatives from narcotics and other specialized units. By bringing in detectives and officers from specialized units, there was much more focused direction in all NYPD departments. And as the number of people who attended CompStat meetings grew, the NYPD made use of larger meeting spaces and adopted more sophisticated computer systems (PERF, 2012).

Overall, CompStat was not just a regular meeting and a new use of technology. Rather, it was a larger system of management, and that contributed to significant changes within the NYPD’s organizational structure and culture.

The use of tactical and strategic planning that came with CompStat began to pay off with crime declines under Commissioner Ray Kelly (1992—1994), and when Commissioner Bratton took charge of the NYPD, he made it widely known that he had set a target of cutting crime by an additional 10% in 1994, his first year (PERF, 2013). With CompStat in place, he met and surpassed that goal, with a drop of 12% (PERF, 2013). The next year, significant declines continued, and crime dropped in every one of New York

City’s 76 police precincts. From 1993 to 1998, homicides dropped 67%, burglary was down 53%,and robberies were down 54% (PERF, 2013).There may have been declines in many other cities, but in no American city were the crime declines more dramatic than in New York City.

Consequently, following its success in New York, police agencies large and small throughout the country began using CompStat, hoping to replicate the NYPD’s success (PERF, 2013). In a number of cases, former NYPD officials brought CompStat to other agencies when they were hired as police chiefs. For example, Bill Bratton implemented CompStat in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD),JohnTimoney brought CompStat to Philadelphia and updated it in Miami, Gary McCarthy expanded CompStat significantly in Chicago, and Edmund Hartnett brought it to Yonkers, New York.

The successes brought about by CompStat were not just reflected in lower crime rates. Many law enforcement leaders recognized that CompStat could help to focus attention and resources on crime and the causes of crime, which then could lead to better deployment plans. CompStat also proved to be a helpful tool to demonstrate that police resources are monitored and used effectively. And, furthermore, many agencies report that CompStat has improved information sharing within their organization (PERF, 2013). Some agencies use CompStat to assess overtime, budgets, use of force, citizen complaints, and other measures of police work for which the public and government leaders hold police agencies accountable. CompStat and the accountability that conies with it can help chiefs to drive organizational change.

In 1997, the National Institute ofjustice (NIJ) Crime Mapping Research Center (CMRC) was founded. Now called the Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) program, it supports research that helps agencies use geographic information systems (GIS) to enhance public safety. The program examines:

  • • How to use maps to analyze crime
  • • How to analyze spatial data
  • • How maps can help researchers evaluate programs and policies
  • • How to develop mapping, data sharing, and spatial analysis tools

The NIJ established the CMRC using funds from the Omnibus Consolidated Recissions and Appropriations Act of 1996. The center surveyed police departments to determine how they used analytic mapping in policing and began developing training programs to enhance the ability of police departments to use spatial maps and data sets. In 2002, CMRC evolved into the NIJ’s MAPS program.

MAPS funds research that uses GIS, statistical analysis, and analysis of spatial data to help police agencies and departments deploy officers more effectively, make better use of public safety resources, develop stronger crime policies, and have a greater understanding of crime (NIJ, 2013).

In 2003, a year after MAPS was developed by the NIJ, the NIJ started the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology' Centers (NLECTC) Crime Mapping and Analysis Program. At the core of the NLECTC system is the idea of linking research with practice. For technology issues, the NLECTC system is the conduit between researchers and criminal justice professionals in the field. NLECTC works with criminal justice professionals to identify urgent and emerging technology needs, while the NIJ sponsors research and develops best practices to address those needs. NLECTC centers demonstrate new technologies, test commercially available technologies, and publish results—all with the intent of linking research with practice.

Originally created in 1994 as a program of the NIJ’s Office of Science and Technology, NLECTC plays a crucial role in enabling the NIJ to carry out its critical mission to assist state, local, tribal, and federal law enforcement, corrections, and other criminal justice agencies in addressing their technology needs and challenges (National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, 2002).

It was the development of LEAA’s ICAP, the research and writing leading to the SARA model for problem-solving, the founding of the IACA, the invention and refinement of the CompStat program, the MAPS program, and NLECTC’s starting of the Crime Mapping and Analysis Program that brought about a proliferation of crime analysts and crime analysis units. Of course, these developments couldn’t have taken place without advancements in technology'.Today, the technology and the interest in crime analysis have brought about many crime analysis units in police departments.

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