There was a piece this weekend in the Longmont, Colorado Times Call that looked at Longmont Police's use of crime analysis to determine "high crime areas". They use these geographic areas to focus their crime fighting efforts.
"We make a concerted effort to try to make more contacts in that area," said Cmdr. Jeff Satur. Sometimes, he said, the person the officer stops is up to no good or has warrants. Other times, Satur said, the officer ends up talking to residents or business people in the area, which helps the police learn who should be in a specific area and when.
The police department does not have a hard and fast definition for a "high crime area," but rather uses it as a loose term that helps officers focus efforts based on call volumes to an area or an address.
Lee creates daily crime reports for officers to review during briefings and monthly reports that show crime data for benchmark crimes over the month, with comparisons over a three-month period or with comparisons to the same month in the previous year. The specific crimes tracked include auto theft, car break-ins, burglaries, robberies, criminal mischief and victim-offender crimes. The reports also offer other information to help officers focus efforts, like the most common day of the week a particular crime is committed.
This story is a good example of just how crime analysts are making their agencies more efficient at reducing crime in their communities. While an individual officer might have a pretty good idea what's happening in his beat area during his shift, someone should be looking at the "big picture". A crime analyst can look at crime across the entire community and during all times of the day and night to come up with a pretty good picture of what areas need more crime fighting resources.
What is your agency doing to get an understanding of the "big picture"? Is a crime analyst part of that effort?