Writing and Distributing Reports

The reports generated by strategic crime analysts may be distributed to personnel in a variety of ways. In some police agencies, reports may be disseminated as emails or even memos that are sent to various units or administrators. In other police departments, reports are simply placed in officers’ mailboxes. In some instances, reports can be passed out by roll call supervisors or read during the shift-change by briefing officers.

Also, the crime analyst may attend briefing sessions and verbally describe the report and strategic recommendations. This would be particularly important to do if requested by police command or if the recommendations are vital for patrol officers to know.

Although most reports may be distributed in printed form in the mailboxes of the police staff, it can be particularly useful for crime analysts to deliver their reports in person. This not only enables the analyst to discuss the report, but it also can be useful for soliciting feedback while at the same time building personal relationships that may be crucial to future collaborations and networking.

Final Goal of Crime Analysis

The final goal of crime analysis is to help with the evaluation of police efforts by determining the level of success of programs and initiatives implemented to control and prevent crime and disorder, and measuring how effectively police organizations are run. In recent years, local police agencies have become increasingly interested in determining the effectiveness of their crime control and prevention programs.

Furthermore, strategic crime analysts also assist police departments in evaluating internal organizational procedures, such as resource allocation (i.e., how officers are assigned to patrol areas), realignment of geographic boundaries, the forecasting of staffing needs, and the development of performance measures. Police agencies keep such procedures under constant scrutiny in order to ensure that the agencies are running effectively.

When all is said and done, however, the primary objective of crime analysis is to assist the police in reducing and preventing crime and disorder, while presenting cutting-edge policing strategies, such as hot spot policing, problem-oriented policing, disorder policing, intelligence-led policing, and CompStat management strategies—all centered on directing crime prevention and crime reduction responses based on crime analysis results. In Chapter 14, we discuss threat assessment and the role of intelligence.

Questions for Discussion

  • 1 Think of a crime problem or crime trend in your community. How could you apply the SARA model to that trend or problem?
  • 2 Why does routine activities theory make sense as an operating system for strategic crime analysts?

Important Terms

Compound problem report: Gives information and recommendations about the highest-level problems that strategic crime analysts face, crime problems or crime trends that usually encompass various locations, offenders, and victims.

Crime problems: Usually refers to multiple crime or disorder incidents with common causal factors.

Crime trends: Long-term increases and decreases in crime, or simply changes in the characteristics of a crime over a period of time. Crime trends can occur over months, years, decades, or even centuries. Often, crime trends have numerous obscure and indirect social, environmental, economic, or political causes.

Field research: Observing the characteristics of various crime locations or immersion in a setting where crime occurs so as to gain a better understanding of the who, what, how, when, and where of the social structure or action and interaction of a neighborhood, a group, or victims.

Focus groups: Sometimes referred to as group interviews, focus groups are guided conversations in which an analyst meets with a collection of similarly situated, but usually unrelated persons for purposes of uncovering information about a topic.

Identifying problems report: Report that details information related to the systematic identification of long-term problems, such as the locations of problem areas, specific off enders known to be suspects in crime problems or crime trends, victims of crime problems, and property involved in crime trends or problems.

Interviews: Typically structured conversations that researchers have with individuals to learn more about crime problems or crime trends.

Problem analysis triangle: Also known as the crime analysis triangle, the problem analysis triangle comes from one of the main theories of environmental criminology'—routine activities theory. This theory' states that predatory crime occurs when a likely offender and suitable target come together in time and place, without a capable guardian present.The problem analysis triangle is a graphic description of routine activities theory.

Problem-oriented policing: Professor Herman Goldstein first described the problem-oriented approach to policing in a 1979 article, which he expanded upon later in his 1990 book, Problem-Oriented Policing.

Qualitative research: Qualitative research methods, as opposed to quantitative research, provide more emphasis on interpretation and usually look at contexts, the environment, and the people involved in a crime problem.

Quantitative research: Usually involves statistics and data that can be scored and presented easily on graphs or in tables.

Routine activities theory: Developed by Cohen and Felson, a theory that seeks to explain the occurrence of crime events as the confluence of four circumstances: a motivated offender; a desirable target; the target and the offender being in the same place at the same time; and intimate handlers, guardians, or place managers being absent or ineffective.

SARA model: In the SARA model, the strategic crime analyst will collect the data, define the scope of the problem-solving effort, find an effective response, and set up the project so that it can be evaluated and the police can learn from the results.

Strategic crime analysis: Analysis of data in order to develop long-term strategies, policies, and prevention techniques. In contrast, tactical crime analysis deals more often with short-term and current crime problems.

Surveys: Survey research involves the collection of information from a sample of individuals through their responses to questions, which may be submitted through the mail or email, by telephone, or in person.

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