Hardware and Software Requirements
Computer hardware and software applications are essential to the success of a crime analysis unit. The analyst position tends to be a highly technical role within law enforcement. As such, analysts need access to high performance hardware and a wide-range of software applications to be effective. Software applications will be installed on the analysts’ computers, available on the agency’s network or intranet, or accessible through websites on the internet.
In the beginning, analysts can do the majority of their work using Microsoft Office. A mapping application is needed to present geographic information on a map but an analyst can start with online or less expensive mapping software. As the CAU becomes more established, the analysts can evaluate crime analysis-specific software packages to determine which ones will best meet the agency’s needs and budget.
Software vendors offer applications that provide data analysis, graphic, and mapping capabilities. While these packages can make the job of a crime analyst easier, and can bring some basic analysis capabilities to line-level officers, they do not replace the need for a trained crime analyst. The IACA recommends hiring and training a crime analyst first and investigating purchases later. Once the analyst has had the opportunity to learn your agency’s data systems and understand your product needs, they can better assess what resources are required.
Through the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, the Office of Justice Programs within the U.S. Department of Justice has created a publication entitled Analyst Toolbox – A Toolbox for the Intelligence Analyst. This publication provides a listing of computer hardware, software, and database resources that an analyst needs or may wish to access.