HOW TECHNOLOGY IS USED IN CRIME ANALYSIS CJ 216 Highfill, Lucrissa 9/7/2010 Leave this page blank The first step in the crime analysis process is the collection of data; this step is closely connected to data storage. As noted above, this step occurs outside the direct control of the crime analysis function. In most police agencies, officers and/or civilian employees enter crime reports and other data into a computer system. Officers may write reports in longhand that are then entered into the computer system by data entry clerks, officers may input incident reports directly into a computer system, or police dispatchers may write reports directly into the computer system. The policies dictating data entry procedures, as well as the care taken by the individuals who execute the procedures, are crucial to crime analysis because they affect both the quantity and the quality of the data and subsequent analysis. Some of the data collected in police departments are not relevant for crime analysis, so subsets of information are compiled for analysis purposes. For example, police officers draw diagrams of car accidents for purposes of insurance claims and other legal concerns. Crime analysts are generally not concerned with the exact circumstances of each car accident; rather, they are concerned with compiling data on the dates, times, locations, and nature of all accidents, as this information can help them to understand this type of activity more generally. In addition, the manner in which data are stored and the amount of data stored are important in crime analysis. Data must be in an electronic format, collected regularly (e. . , on a daily or weekly basis), and collected for a significant amount of time to be useful for crime analysis. Paper copies of reports and other information are not useful to crime analysts because data in this form are too time-consuming and cumbersome to analyze. Information has to be coded into an electronic database to be useful for crime analysis. The time that elapses between the observation, or data collection, and the availability of data needs to be reasonably short if the data are to be useful for crime analysis. For example, electronic crime report data that are not available until 6 months after reports are written are not useful.
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