Classification of Crime Analysis
As law enforcement agencies were beginning to use technology and develop CompStat programs similar to those used in the NYPD and LAPD, police agencies decided they needed to be more aware of public safety analysis or simply police analysis. In general, when police departments began to initiate technology and intelligence analysis units, they were interested in processing techniques and products that would provide information and support for the various missions of those agencies—chiefly, running efficient and effective police departments and reducing crime. These technology and intelligence analysis units necessarily morphed into crime analysis units or centers. Usually, crime analysis functions are assigned to one of four classifications:
- 1 Tactical crime analysis
- 2 Strategic crime analysis
- 3 Administrative crime analysis
- 4 Police operations analysis
Tactical Crime Analysis
Tactical crime analysis is a term that describes the daily identification and analysis of emerging or existing crime patterns. It is the study of recent criminal incidents and activity by examining characteristics such as the who, what, how, when, and where of crime in order to reveal patterns, trends, and potential suspects.
Tactical crime analysis offers a police agency the ability to allocate resources in the most efficient manner. There is something called the 6/68 rule. This states that there are a small number of offenders (6%) committing the majority of criminal activity (68%). Tactical crime analysis helps police agencies to focus on these priority and prolific offenders by conducting analysis on serial crime. For example, tactical crime analysts help to find serial criminals using data, mapping, or more complex calculations. Identifying that a serial criminal is engaging in regular crime incidents, the tactical crime analyst may be able to predict the next day, date, time, and location of the next offense in the series. Furthermore, the analyst may be able to determine the offenders residence location.This all leads to intelligence that police officers can use in their crime fighting operations.
Tactical crime analysis focuses on information from recent crimes reported to the police. “Recent” can refer to the last few months or longer periods of time for specific ongoing problems. Tactical crime analysis also focuses on specific information about each crime, such as method of entry, point of entry, suspects’ actions, type of victim, and type of weapon used, as well as the date, time, location, and type of location. Field information—such as suspicious activity calls for service, criminal trespass warnings, and persons with scars, marks, or tattoos—collected by officers is also considered in the analysis. Although quantitative analysis is often conducted once a pattern has been identified, qualitative analysis—that is, critical thinking and content analysis—is used initially to identify patterns and trends (Boba, 2001).
Goals of Tactical Crime Analysis
Four goals of tactical crime analysis are: (1) linking cases together and identifying crime patterns and trends as soon as possible; (2) analyzing patterns discovered to identify potential suspects for a crime or crime pattern; (3) notifying the police department about the existence of patterns and suspects as soon as possible; and (4) working with the police agency to develop the best tactics to address the pattern and clear the case (Boba, 2001).
The Tactical Crime Analyst Working in Real Time
When working in real time, especially at a real-time crime center (RTCC), analysts who work directly with their law enforcement counterparts do so from a tactical perspective. With law enforcement working as a paramilitary organization, analysts assigned to RTCCs, working in concert with law enforcement, should follow a para-law enforcement ideology.
In the following, Glenn Grana explains the role of tactical analysts:
In the agency where I work as a tactical analyst supervisor, I am often asked what a tactical analyst does.
My response is that a tactical analyst is an analyst who can rapidly data mine, and analyze information and intelligence from multiple data sources, while applying his or her understanding of the theories and practices that law enforcement follow[s] in order to create a unique analytical process that works as a real-time extension of the investigative process. When successful, this creates a symbiotic relationship between the two parties.This conies down to a mutual understanding.
Analysts working tactically, as tactical analysts, must shadow certain procedures that law enforcement implements as a working protocol, such as working within the prescribed investigative process and understanding the rules of evidence, to cite two examples. However, this can only work if the tactical analyst fully understands his or her law enforcement counterparts methodology and ideology; and, in turn, the law enforcement counterpart fully understands him or her.
The tactical analyst needs to have:
- • A basic understanding of law enforcement principles
- • An understanding of criminal behavior
- • Experience in crisis management protocol (in order to assist during crisis situations)
- • A grasp of the real-time process of investigations
On the other hand, law enforcement needs to understand the analytical process and the intelligence available to the analyst.
Understanding is key to tactical analysts doing their job, mainly because crime analysts are primarily civilians who, unlike their law enforcement partners, have not been trained to multitask during a real-time or crisis situation.The need—and urgency—for immediate information, and actionable intelligence, is crucial to the successful handling of real-time situations. Training, therefore, for both the analyst and law enforcement, is critical in order for both parties to achieve success in working together to establish a fluid investigative process.
While traditional crime analysis often relies on the analyst methodically poring over data in order to form conclusions relevant to crime patterns or trends, this process, while frequently effective, is also time-consuming. The analysts working in a tactical role, in real time, need to rapidly data mine, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence as the situation, crime, or investigation is unfolding. Time is of the essence in most situations.
Understanding the process of investigation that their law enforcement counterpart is following would help to expedite the analytical process. It can also help the tactical analyst in the data mining of relevant information and transitioning that information into actionable intelligence. Once the relevant intelligence is forwarded to the investigator, it helps to keep the investigative process moving or, depending on what the information revealed, it can change the course of the investigation in order to set it on a more focused path. This can occur when the analyst understands the investigative mindset of the investigator he or she is assisting.