Challenges to Integrating Crime Analysis into Policing

Even though there are numerous advantages to using technology in police work, there are still barriers and challenges to implementation. One of the most significant barriers is an incomplete understanding on the part of police department leadership of how to use both intelligence analysis and crime analysis more effectively (Peed,Wilson, and Scalisi,2008). In one study, Taylor, Boba, and Egge (2013) found that while most police agencies have at least one staff member conducting crime analysis, and while most police departments consider crime analysis a priority and critical to achieving the agency mission, there still is much work to be done to bring about an integrated approach within police organizations to make crime analysis an important part of how patrol operates. Taylor et al. (2013) discovered that few patrol officers make use of crime analysis or have contact with crime analysis personnel; many police agencies have no feedback mechanism for the impact of crime analysis; and analysts only infrequently make use of opportunities (e.g., roll call briefings or ride-alongs) to gain a better understanding of the operations and culture of patrol.

Other research suggests that training for both intelligence analysts and crime analysts is often inadequate and limited (Peed et al., 2008). However, development of what Peed et al. (2008) describe as an integrated crime analysis model is not out of reach, given the right leadership direction and proper resources and training. They recommend that police management should tailor crime analysis training to support the specific missions and products most needed by command staff members and line officers.

Although many law enforcement administrators and managers have not yet fully grasped the full potential of what skilled crime analysts can do, and they have not quite figured out how to apply crime analyst skills effectively and efficiently, ultimately we believe that police departments will come to appreciate the extraordinary benefits of crime analysis. By making greater use of crime analysts working in RTCCs or fusion centers, the services of crime analysts will enhance the safety and efficiency of the police to better serve and protect their communities.

Questions for Discussion

  • 1 Would you like to be a crime analyst? Why or why not?
  • 2 Based on what you have learned throughout this book and based on what you know about the steady advances in technology', how would you envision technology' revolutionizing policing in the next 25 years?

Important Terms

Biometrics: Measuring and analysis of such physical attributes as facial features and voice or retinal scans, often used for identification.

Crime analysis unit: Police department unit responsible for crime analysis.

Fusion centers: Information-sharing centers, which were first developed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Now the term fusion center is often used as another name for real-time crime center.

Predictive policing: Any policing strategy or tactic that develops and uses information and advanced analysis to lead to forward-thinking crime prevention.

PredPol: Jeffrey Brantingham, a professor of anthropology at UCLA, helped to develop the predictive policing system that is now licensed to dozens of police departments under the brand name PredPol.

Real-time crime center (RTCC): Centralized technology center that gives field officers and detectives instant information to help identify patterns and stop emerging crime.

Routine activities theory: Theory which holds that crime takes place when a motivated offender and a suitable target coincide in time and space with the absence of a committed guardian.

Study Guide Questions

For questions 1—4, indicate whether the statement is true or false.

  • 1 Routine activities theory and other environmental approaches hold great promise for the future of policing and crime prevention.
  • 2 The authors of this book take the position that crime analysts with their technology have a much better chance for reducing crime and crime rates than do patrol officers and detectives.
  • 3 The police departments of the future, as is becoming clearer each year, will be about integrating technology with policing.
  • 4 Although more police departments are developing crime analysis units and RTCCs, these units do not have to be staffed by qualified and skilled crime analysts.

5 As technology becomes more sophisticated and increasingly critical to police department operations, police agencies will need to

a Be led by traditional police administrators

b Hire more trained and professional crime analysts

c Hire more detectives

d Become more militarized

6 A good crime analyst must bring three things to the job: (1) an educational background in criminology or criminal justice, (2) a working knowledge of policing and investigation, and (3)

a An ability to put a positive spin on crime b Skills in fighting the war on drugs

c Training and skills in computer analysis d Skills in accounting and business practices

7 To be successful in the job, a crime analyst must be able to communicate complex ideas in

a A clear and down-to-earth manner

b A way that sounds impressive

c A way so that no one really understands what the police are doing d Double-talk

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