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. The amount of data stored also needs to be adequate (e. g. , multiple years) for crime analysts to have enough information to conduct satisfactory analyses. For example, 2 months’ worth of data cannot provide a comprehensive picture of a burglary problem. Finally, it is also important for crime analysts to have access to raw data. Many police computer systems only allow retrieval of individual records and/or the creation of statistical reports on paper. Crime analysts must be able to download electronic data into myriad software programs to conduct analyses using the various techniques discussed in this book. To summarize, the crime analysis data collection process requires the following: 1. The data must be collected accurately and consistently. 2. Only data appropriate for crime analysis should be compiled (i. e. , some characteristics important to crime analysis may not be collected because they are not relevant for official or legal purposes). 3. The data must be collected in a timely manner (e. g. , not 6 months after the observations). 4. The data must be stored for an adequate amount of time to allow for satisfactory analysis. 5. The data must be accessible in raw form to be queried and downloaded. ?? Crime analysis is the systematic study of crime and disorder problems as well as other police-related issues—including sociodemographic, spatial, and temporal factors—to assist the police in criminal apprehension, crime and disorder reduction, crime prevention, and evaluation. ?? Crime analysis is not haphazard or anecdotal; rather, it involves the application of data collection procedures, analytic methods, and statistical techniques. ? Crime analysis entails more than the study of criminal incidents; it includes the examination of other information that is of concern to police, including disorder activity and police operational information. ?? Temporal, spatial (crime mapping), and sociodemographic factors are key areas of focus in crime analysts’ examinations of crime, disorder, and other police-related issues. ?? The goals of crime analysis are to assist police in criminal apprehension, crime and disorder reduction, crime prevention, and evaluation. ?? The crime analysis process—that is, the general way in which crime analysis is practiced—includes the steps of data collection, data collation, analysis, dissemination of results, and the receipt of feedback from users of the information. ?? The data modification sub cycle is a sub process within the crime analysis process in which the analyst makes changes in data collection and collation procedures based on insights gained during the analysis. ?? The term crime analysis refers to a general concept and to a discipline practiced in the policing community. The five major types of crime analysis— intelligence analysis, criminal investigative analysis, tactical crime analysis, strategic crime analysis, and administrative crime analysis—differ from one another in purpose, scope, data, and analysis techniques. ?? Tactical crime analysis is the study of recent criminal incidents and potential criminal activity through the examination of characteristics such as how, when, and where the activity has occurred to assist in pattern development, investigative lead and suspect identification, and case clearance. ? Strategic crime analysis is the study of crime problems and other police related issues to determine long-term patterns of activity as well as to evaluate police responses and organizational procedures. ?? Administrative crime analysis is the presentation of interesting findings of crime research and analysis based on legal, political, and practical concerns to inform audiences within police administration, city government/council, and citizens.
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