Last Thursday I was 125 miles west down Interstate 80 in Kearney, Nebraska to give two presentations at break-out sessions during the Nebraska GIS Symposium. As I was preparing to head home, I checked my email. Among my messages was one from Jessica, a new crime analyst at the Grand Island Police Department. She was introducing herself, and seeking some information. Grand Island was just 35 miles away, and right on my way back to Lincoln, so rather than a phone call, I just invited myself to drop by her office. I sent her a 45 minute Glympse, so she'd know when I was getting close.
Jessica is new to crime analysis, but has lots of law enforcement experience. She wanted some information from me about geographic crime analysis software, which I was happy to provide. More importantly, though, I gave her some advice that I have shared over the years with many other crime analysts in a similar position: starting out in a new position in a department that previously has not had an analyst.
Even though she's been on the job for less than a month, she has a lot of irons in the fire. She's evaluating software, learning the department's records management system, she has training scheduled, and she has a lot of good ideas already. She has some very strong assets strong education and experience, a competent records management system, a mobile network with computers and broadband in the patrol fleet, and a supportive chief.
I recommended that she focus on a few "quick wins": projects that she could pull off with very little expense, rather swiftly, that would noticeably improve the information flow within her department. Some early success sets the stage for bigger projects that will take more time and resources. It also makes a new analyst feel good about his or her job, and starts to show officers the value of their new crime analyst!
By the time I had to bug out, I'm sure her head was spinning. Although she was taking notes furiously, I thought it might be helpful to both her and to other new crime analysts for me to commit my ideas for a few quick wins to writing. I will be using my blog this week to do so, describing a few projects that a new analyst just starting out could get rolling right out of the gate.
There's nothing novel here, all these things are being done in lots of places around the country. Some of my colleagues will look at these ideas and surmise, correctly, that there isn't really anything analytic about what I am suggesting. This is quite true. Spatial statistics, kernel densities, standard deviation ellipses, predictive forecasts, risk terrain modeling, and such are down the road. Let's just think about what a new analyst in a city of 50,000 could get cracking on as a starting point to get more information about crimes, criminals, trends and patterns to the troops.
A place of your own