Education for Crime Analysts

It has been emphasized at various points in this book that crime analysts should possess an overview of the investigative process from the law enforcement perspective. With that in mind, what follows is an ideal curriculum, based on the classes Glenn Grana teaches to crime analysts in New York. He refers to it as a basic criminal investigations course for crime and intelligence analysts, and the intent is to introduce the analyst to the investigative mindset that a police officer/investigator uses when conducting a real-time criminal investigation, interview, or follow-up investigation. The goal, upon completion of the curriculum, is to help the analyst gain a better understanding of the investigative process that their law enforcement counterparts follow while developing an investigative skill set that can help to enhance their own investigative process at the same time.

Course curriculum:

  • • Introduction to criminal investigations
  • • Historical
  • • The analyst’s role
  • • Basic investigative techniques/locating suspects
  • • Creating actionable intelligence from information
  • • Understanding solvability factors
  • • Working and creating leads
  • • Interview techniques
  • • Active listening
  • • Command of Q and A process when extracting information from interviewee
  • • Pattern investigations: beyond traditional analysis
  • • Understanding commonalities and their relevance to MO
  • • Case management
  • • Follow-up
  • • Closing the case out
  • • Courtroom testimony
  • • Demeanor
  • • Understanding Brady and Rosario rules
  • • Case study: homicide investigation
  • • Understanding the analyst’s role in a large-scale, multiple homicide investigation

The follow-up to this course would be courses to provide essential knowledge, similar to what has been featured throughout this book, about analysis of criminal intelligence.

Where to Go for More Information about Crime Analyst Jobs

The first place to go for information is the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). This is probably the most well-known professional association for the crime analyst field. It maintains a Current Job Opportunities page on its website that lists crime analyst jobs (https://iaca. net/job-listings/). You may want to note the types of requirements listed. Many require at least a bachelors degree or some other combination of college and experience. Usually, the degrees required are in criminal justice, sociology, public administration, or computer sciences. IACA also offers a variety of training courses and professional conferences.

Technology and the Future of Policing

Getting a job and working in criminal justice today means having the opportunity to utilize robots, global positioning systems (GPS), advanced cameras, and high-powered computer systems. These important technologies have improved investigation, surveillance, and analysis procedures. But, as with all technology in all fields, technology works great as long as it is being utilized by workers with the requisite skill set and intelligence to use it properly.

Every aspect of law enforcement has a computer program associated with the job, from DNA testing to robotic cameras to automatic license plate recognition systems—just to name a few. The amount of technology available to make criminal justice jobs more effective is rapidly growing. Of course, criminals also utilize these technologies, so professionals in the industry have to remain one step ahead in technology to combat illicit usage.

As we hope has been made clear in this book, one of the most important technological tools in the field today is the computer database. There are now database systems for DNA testing and profiling, fingerprints, and hot spot crime mapping programs. For each type of database that exists, there have been corresponding technological advancements in that niche.

Everyone is familiar with computers, but the criminal justice field also gets to see more unique forms of technological advancements, such as the following:

  • • Robots, robotic cameras, and flying drones. Instead of sending in an officer to check out a dangerous situation or diffuse a bomb, it’s now possible to send in a robot. There are even flying robotic drones that give officers a bird’s-eye view of a crime scene without a person having to go up in the air.
  • • Gunshot detection system (GDS). This system of electronic sensors installed in high-crime areas helps police quickly detect where any gunshots come from. They allow for an improved response time that helps to reduce crime.
  • • GPS and GIS. Police departments can use GPS and geographic information systems (GIS) in so many ways these days.They can help officers get to a crime scene using the most effective route, and they can pinpoint where a suspect is located. One great way in which GPS is used is to track fleeing criminals without having to engage in a dangerous highspeed chase. GIS can be used to track police vehicles so departments always know where they are located.
  • • Automatic license plate recognition (ALPR). There are now cameras inside police cars that can automatically run every single license plate the camera sees. An officer immediately sees if the car is stolen or if the driver has warrants out for his or her arrest.

But, as you have learned, police departments, through the skills and expertise of crime analysts, can also use data mining and predictive analytics to identify crime trends and highlight “hidden” connections between disparate events. This helps the police to gain a more complete picture of crime, predict patterns of future criminal behavior, and identify the key causal factors of crime in their area.

Just over the horizon of upcoming law enforcement technologies is biometrics, including facial recognition. The same software that has been used to identify high rollers and cheats in casinos, for example, can now be used to single out people banned from football stadiums or terrorists on a watch list at key border control points. Biometrics, including iris recognition, is ready to be used to match passengers to their digital images on e-passports at border crossings all over the world. This wasn’t even imagined as possible in the twentieth century.

The most exciting news is that the potential for technology to reduce crime is real and proven. However, all law enforcement agencies must prepare their officers to embrace new technologies as they become available. It is apparent that our future safety and security depend on this.

One important tool in the present—and future—arsenal of police departments is predictive policing. As the ability to collect, store, and analyze data becomes cheaper and easier, law enforcement agencies are adopting techniques that harness the potential of technology to provide more and better information. But while these new tools have been welcomed by law enforcement agencies, they’re raising concerns about privacy, surveillance, and how much power should be given over to computer algorithms.

Jeffrey Brantingham, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), helped to develop the predictive policing system that is now licensed to dozens of police departments under the brand name PredPol (Hoff, 2013). PredPol’s technique and proprietary algorithm is all about predicting where and when crime is most likely to occur, although not necessarily who will commit it.

PredPol is now being used in a third of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 21 geographic policing divisions, and officers on patrol are equipped with maps sprinkled with a dozen or more red boxes indicating high probabilities of criminal activity (Hoff, 2013). Dozens of other cities across the United States are using the PredPol software to predict crime, including gang activity, drug crimes, and shootings.

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