Yesterday I got to get out of the office by traveling to the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex to speak to the Metroplex Crime & Intelligence Analysts' Association at one of their monthly meetings. I have to admit that when they asked, I got a little puffed up that such a great bunch of analysts would want to hear me talk about The Crime Analyst's Blog. A few of them I already knew from the International Association of Crime Analysts.
I got to talk about a few things that I am passionate about such as Problem Oriented Policing, the book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers In 60 Small Steps as well as why I think crime analysts should write.
More importantly, I got to put a few faces to names, and add a few more contacts to my address book. The reason I say "more importantly" is that in law enforcement, like many other professions, networking and building relationships with your peers is invaluable. When you are working on a particularly difficult crime problem or you are working on a problem that crosses jurisdictional lines, it's nice to already have the name of someone to call for help, advice or support.
Nearly every time I get to talk shop with an analyst from another agency, I take away new ideas on solutions to crime problems, new techniques to try or even just the realization that I'm not the only person around working on a similar problem.
Often times it's all too easy to stay focused on just your own office and your projects. After all, we get our little routine down at the office and networking with another agency's crime analysts does take a bit of extra effort. But it is important to make the effort and get some face time with these folks because your efforts will pay off the first time one of these other analysts give you a new idea, a new technique or that bit of information you've been looking for.
What are you doing to network with other crime analysts in your area? Do you meet with them periodically to talk shop or discuss regional problems? If there is no group in your area why not start one?