Crime and Intelligence Analyst Profile
|Title: Police Statistical Crime Analyst
|Agency: Glendale Police Department, Arizona
|Years of Experience as an Analyst: 15
|Hometown: Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ
What are your favorite aspects of the job?
I think the most favorite aspect of my job now is that I can finally give back some of the knowledge I have gained over the past 15 years to other analysts from across the world. The IACA and the various list servs we now have available to us allow us to contact people from all over the world who are interested in the same things I am. An interesting thing I’ve always found is that we all have the same problems as well. Sometimes we may word them a little differently, but I have found a lot of common ground speaking with analysts from Washington State to Florida, South Africa to Britain. Being able to share ideas and what works or does not work is very rewarding, not only that you have a solution to an issue plaguing you, but that you have so many talented and dedicated people out there to ask for (and get) great advice.
Why did you decide to become a crime analyst?
I was a sworn officer when I first started out and got the job as the traffic analyst because I knew how to use computers, could draw well, and could complete a spreadsheet (multi-plan back then). I fell in love with the job and using my brain and learning new things. Tactical analysis and figuring out where the bad guy was going to go next in a crime series really brought me around and I wound up helping an Australian geographer develop a new method for predicting the next hit in a crime series, called the probability grid method (or PGM). This was nothing more than geoprocessing and common sense, but it helped me reduce the number of areas for surveillance and increased my accuracy by 50% or more in most cases. I would never have known how to do it all on my own back then, and a large number of analysts, academics and vendors all pitched in to give me better ideas, better methods, and how to test how well it worked. I think the huge outpouring of help from fellow analysts who would let a dumb cop ask them questions via email for months, or those mid-afternoon phone calls of frustration without hanging up, are the “gold in them thar hills” we have in the crime analysis community.
What do you like about being a crime analyst?
I like the challenge of finding new ways to give officers and command staff the information they need to do their jobs more effectively. I love it when a prediction of mine comes true and the officers are there sitting on the address and arrest the bad guy right when, where, and what day of week I told them he would be there. I get the same thrill and excitement when I read in the exceptional incident log or hear in the news that a robbery suspect I did a bulletin on was captured leaving the scene of a crime I had predicted the location for. It thrills me the same as when I was a patrol officer and arrested a robbery suspect after some investigation. I hate armed robbers, and the more in the jail the better.
What rewarding projects have you worked on as a crime analyst?
I guess a better question might be what I have not worked on that has been rewarding? I think I find all the projects I do rewarding to some extent, or else why do this job? From the hotspot maps to the weekly Compstat reports, they all hopefully have value and are being used by the people we make them for. When I look at a report for the past 28 days for instance, I can see that several hundred thousand dollars worth of property is stolen in just 28 days. The victims total into the hundreds and so many cases go unsolved because I just don’t have the time to review potentially related cases all the time. Yes, there are frustrations with detectives not accepting what you want to help them with, and yes, not all command staff understand charts, maps, and graphs correctly. Training the people you do analysis for helps you understand it all better, helps them recognize your worth as a resource to them, and secures your position. One of the things I always try to tell students in my crime mapping class is that they are going to be paid as “analysts” not number crunchers and table makers. Always add in that piece by providing an executive summary, or something that explains the analysis you are providing them. Do I do this all the time? No. But should I? A resounding YES! Anything we do with our talented analysts in the IACA, AACA (Arizona Association of Crime Analysts), or other association dedicated to this profession is a rewarding experience and helps us all learn. I found these two quotes on a website and thought they summed this section up well:
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
~Attributed to Harry S. Truman
A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. ~Chinese Proverb
What has been the most memorable experience or day you’ve had as a crime analyst?
I think my most memorable day was when I won the IACA Board’s award for service to the crime analysis profession in 2001. I was truly surprised and it was totally unexpected! I didn’t even know I was nominated and it was a great experience! It was one of the best rewards I have ever gotten in my entire life. To be awarded the IACA membership award in 2007 was equally cherished and unexpected. I think it is grand praise to be recognized by such a rich and talented group as member analysts of the IACA have been known to me over the past 15 years. At a recent conference several young, new analysts came up to me and called me a “legend in crime analysis!” Although I just think they were calling me old, it was still nice to know that the work and comments you do in this profession are received and respected so much. That is truly a high honor considering all the awesome work I see other analysts around the country do! I wish I was smart enough, had enough time, or had their skills so I could do what they do. Being recognized by that body of people is truly a life-pinnacle type of experience.
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What Crime Analysts Do
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Interviewing Analyst Candidates
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Evaluation and Measuring Performance