I have been in California for a couple of days, hence the light blogging this week. Two groups asked me to come out and teach seminars, the Bay Area Crime and Intelligence Analyst Association, and the Northern Valley Crime and Intelligence Analysts Association. They were willing to pay my expenses, and I was willing to help out, so we figured a way to do this on two back-to-back days in order to minimize their cost and my out-of-office time. Day one was in Emeryville on San Fransisco bay, and day two was in Sacramento.
It was a nice respite from Nebraska’s January weather, and it felt to me like the attendees all got at least a couple of good ideas to take back to their home departments. I got a few good ideas from the participants, too. In policing, where most officers work their entire career at the same agency, there is a real risk of stagnation. We often lack the infusion of new ideas that occurs naturally in other occupations with the coming and going of staff. Rubbing shoulders with colleagues from other agencies is particularly valuable for police personnel, and I am grateful for the occasional opportunity. It has certainly helped me be a more effective chief.
The first session was hosted at the Emeryville Police Department, right on the bay and with a splendid view. I encountered a crime analyst in the audience with a strong Lincoln connection. Andrea, a bay area native, introduced herself and told me that she was a 2003 University of Nebraska graduate—in the same program from which I took my degree 33 years ago. She ended up in Lincoln for college through a family friendship with a Lincoln physician. Andrea had some vivid memories of January on the UNL campus. She returned to California for graduate school, and is now a crime analyst at the Oakland Police Department
Andrea is part of a new cohort of crime analysts that are entering the field: women and men who have professionally prepared for analytical work. The vast majority of working crime analysts today learned on the job by doing. They are often converted from records technicians, dispatchers, administrative staffers, and police officers. This isn’t to diminish their skills in any way: their job experiences have often enriched their understanding of the context immensely. We are beginning, though, to see more analysts who have prepared through their formal education for the work at hand. I think as they join the field and are mentored by the seasoned analysts who have learned the ropes, they will be well-positioned to advance the boundaries of crime analysis.