Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Challenge of Separating The Wheat From The Chaff

There was a story over at the Coast News about crime analysts in the San Diego, California area. The story was a good one in that it gave a coherent description of what crime analysts do for their agencies. Inside the story was this bit I thought was interesting:

One of the challenges of intelligence-led policing is to take that volume of data and use the analysis process to come up with actionable decisions, he said. “We get a burglary pattern developing out in Santee, how do we reallocate deputies or schedules? It’s what I call having police officers at the right place at the right time. There may be a different nighttime pattern than there is a daytime pattern; there may be a different crime type during the weekends than there are during the week. You are constantly reassessing where those resources can best be used. And that’s a key piece of intelligence-led policing – informed, evidence-based decision making and actionable decision making.”

Especially that most law enforcement agencies have huge amounts of data at their fingertips in the form of computerized records management systems, it really is a challenge is to distill this large dataset into something that says "put an officer at this location and at this time and you'll likely prevent a crime or catch a bad guy".

Crime analysis is part science, part intuition and part art form. A crime analyst should strive to be the local crime expert at their agency to help turn this data into something actionable.

How are you turning the large amount of data your agency captures into something your officers can use to solve crime problems in your community?

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