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The activity of evaluating crime-related information with the goal of presenting facts and alternatives to law enforcement executives for informed decision-making in crucial situations is referred to as intelligence application in law enforcement (Coyne & Bell, 2011). Intelligence is so critical in law enforcement for strategic targeting, planning, decision-making, and criminal prevention. Furthermore, law enforcement authorities rely heavily on intelligence operations at all levels, and they cannot achieve much in terms of crime prevention without obtaining, processing, and utilizing intelligence information (Coyne & Bell, 2011). To be helpful, intelligence information must be examined by a skilled intelligence expert. That is because intelligence information tells the law enforcement agencies everything that they need to know before they take a course of action (Coyne & Bell, 2011).
Crime analysts are charged with the responsibility of conducting crime analysis, which is a law enforcement role that entails systematic analysis for determining and assessing trends and patterns in both crime and disorder (Piza & Feng, 2017). The information on crime patterns can assist law enforcement authorities to allocate resources more efficiently, as well as assist crime detectives in tracking, identifying, and arresting suspects. Additionally, crime analysts play an essential role in devising solutions to various crime problems, as well as formulating different strategies for crime prevention (Piza & Feng, 2017).
Crime analysts conduct their analysis at different levels, including strategic, operational, and tactical. They study a broad range of documents, including arrest reports, crime reports, as well as police calls for service with the aim of identifying emerging crime trends, series, and patterns as speedily as possible. They analyze such information for all relevant factors, and they are sometimes capable of predicting future occurrences (Stummvoll, 2009). After conducting crime analysis, crime analysts usually issue reports, bulletins, and alerts to law enforcement agencies, as well as work with them in developing effective tactics and strategies for addressing crime and disorder (Stummvoll, 2009). The duties of crime analysts may also include preparing data queries and statistics, analyzing shift and beat configurations, answering questions from the press and the public, preparing information for court or community presentations, as well as providing support information and data for the police department (Piza & Feng, 2017).
Also, determining if a crime fits a given new or known pattern is always a challenging task of crime analysts. That is because they have to manually go through several papers and evidence to foresee, expect, and possibly prevent crime (Piza & Feng, 2017). Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice launched an initiative aimed at supporting predictive policing. However, the initiative is more of a data-driven, empirical approach, which only applies in detecting specific series of crime committed by a group or individual (Piza & Feng, 2017).
Crime analysts may use different crime analysis strategies, including tactical assessment, strategic assessment, subject profile, and problem profile. Besides, the crime analysis process may either employ the use of quantitative social science data analysis technique or qualitative methods, such as the examination of police report information (Piza & Feng, 2017).
In overall, crime analysts play a pivotal role in the enforcement process by providing the law enforcement agencies with more accurate information for informed decision-making, planning, and crime prevention. Besides, crime analysts can apply tactics of criminal intelligence in determining the causes of crime and disorder. Therefore, the role of a crime analyst is integral to effective law enforcement and the efficient use of available resources.
Coyne, J., & Bell, P. (2011). Strategic intelligence in law enforcement: a review. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 6(1), 23-39. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/18335330.2011.553179
Piza, E., & Feng, S. (2017). The Current and Potential Role of Crime Analysts in Evaluations of Police Interventions. Police Quarterly, 109861111769705. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1098611117697056
Stummvoll, G. (2009). Environmental criminology and crime analysis. Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 11(2), 144-146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/cpcs.2008.22
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