Friday, June 15, 2007

Free labor and great experience

Kyle Heidtbrink is a recent University of Nebraska graduate. He's works at a great local restaurant, Venue. During his last year in college, he took Geography 412, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, taught by Sunil Narumalani. Dr. Narumalani and I go back aways. He called me up out of the blue several years ago, and asked me if I would come talk to his advanced geographic information systems seminar, since he had heard that I am something of a GIS wonk. I continued doing this for a few years, and always enjoyed the interaction with students. They seemed to be very interested in the real-world application of the topic they were studying as well.

Dr. Narumalani's course caught Kyle's interest, and Sunil steered him to me for an internship. Thus, Kyle is working (for free!) three mornings a week, gaining some experience with GIS, building his resume, and checking out a potential career field--crime analysis. He's one of many interns we use at LPD. I have been the host of several personally, and in the past decade, several of these have been interns interested in geography, GIS, and crime mapping. One of my interns, Becky Colwell, wrote a paper about one of her projects at LPD that won an international competition in 2004, and earned her several trips to present her paper at such places as San Diego and Boston. She is now a GIS professional at the County of Will, Illinois.

Kyle's first project involves sex offenders. We will focus on the level 3 (high risk) offenders. There are 240 of those in Lincoln as of this morning, and 1105 in the State. He's working on collecting data and then mapping the geographic range of registered sex offenders. First, he'll be producing a map of the United States that shows from which states the sex offenders living here originate.

Next, he'll be doing the same thing with Nebraska counties. Obviously, the great majority of Nebraska sex offenders will be people convicted in Nebraska, and the great majority of Lincoln offenders will be those convicted in Lancaster County. I think it will be interesting, though, to see where the others came from.

Kyle will also be analyzing the frequency with which Lincoln sex offenders relocate. This should be an eye-opener. If there is still time left in the summer, the Narcotics Unit has some GIS projects that he'll be tackling as well. These are all GIS projects that are interesting, but that we just don't have the time to take on. That's where the internship comes in. We try to make sure our interns do useful work that helps our department, but we also want to make sure they get good experience that helps them achieve their educational and career goals.

By the time Kyle's done, he will have some good experience using GIS software to analyze data he's researched, a great work experience to list on his resume, and some very cool material to put in his portfolio. If he chooses to go to graduate school sometime in the future, this little project would be a good start on a more in-depth research project or thesis.


Kyle said...

Ahhh the advantages of interns!!! You can't beat the real world experience.

Thanks Chief

Anonymous said...

"analyzing the frequency with which Lincoln sex offenders relocate".

How lame.

Tom Casady said...

Lame? Why's that? I think we'll find that there is a fair percentage of RSOs who are highly mobile. If my guess is right, this has some potential policy implications:

1. It is comparatively difficult for RSOs to comply with registration requirements when their residence is short-term;

2. Laws that restrict residence would have a greater impact on a population that must move often;

3. Notification schemes such as publication or websites would be less valuable, since they are more likely to be out-of-date;

4. No one should be lulled into a sense of security when they find no RSO in their immediate neighborhood, because that changes quickly;

5. etc.

Anonymous said...

Chief if you are so concerned about RSOs, why dont you fight the fact that they are getting released and have a high reoffending percentage. Take on the judges that are releasing them and do some real good. Telling us when they relocate and where would have to happen if their address was 14th/Pioneers