Friday, April 19, 2019

#3 Lessons From My Story

I will post a "lesson" from my life as an analyst once a week until I run out of them! Skip over these if they don't interest you. For those who read on, consider the power of your own stories and where they might take you. And if you want to follow these post threads, in the future click on the label "my story."

When you begin working as an analyst in a law enforcement jurisdiction, it will take you years to learn what is "normal" crime - this limits your ability to discern that which is significant in your data sets.

When I began working as a crime analyst in a city dense with crime to analyze, I focused first on robberies. I recently read somewhere legit that 40% of robberies have unknown assailants - and even if that statistic is not exact, I found that paying attention to robberies, looking for robbery series (robberies committed by the same suspect(s)), was fruitful.

I began putting together a newsletter of crimes that I had analyzed in my non-techie, non-database-centered way - primarily in this mode because there were no accessible databases for me to use back then. However, I could review the daily crimes on our Intranet and collect them myself in my own spreadsheets.

One of the first series I identified was related to robberies of delivery truck drivers when they were outside of places making deliveries. There were ten such crimes in one month! Little did I know how irregular that was, because I did not know what was common and what was uncommon when I started. Fortunately, I was developing relationships within the department and a wise old officer who befriended me recognized the modus operandi and shared possible suspect information, which I could then pass on to detectives, along with dates, times, locations, weapons, vehicles, businesses affected, and suspect descriptions.

Lesson: Know your jurisdiction. Make no assumptions, even if you are an experienced analyst who has moved to a new job. You cannot know the norm of your crime until you have spent some time getting intimate with it. This is why hiring consultants or temporary analysts for local level law enforcement analysis is less likely to result in meaningful analysis. You need to build relationships with both the data and the people (social capital) in your agency. You need to be there.

Later, as an analyst at the federal level, working on major investigations, I needed to get familiar with what I was looking for and what mattered to investigators. It is not the same as working at the local level of policing as an analyst, but, similarly, it does take time to learn what matters. Each big case is different. Sometimes you have to learn about crimes that are unfamiliar to you. In my work situation, I had to get more intimate with the nuts and bolts of financial fraud schemes of all sorts. Being an analyst always involves continuous learning. You cannot be an effective analyst if you do not love to learn.

Here are some Problem Oriented Policing Guides to consider:
Analyzing Repeat Victimization
Robbery at Automated Teller Machines
Robbery of Convenience Stores
Robbery of Pharmacies
Robbery of Taxi Drivers

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Intelligence Analysts

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Intelligence Analysts is an article for competitive intelligence analysts but relates to the work you do as law enforcement analysts.

Reading and learning from other analyst disciplines can help you expand your analytical toolbox and help you think more critically about new ways and means to increase your value.

Read more:
What makes a good Data Analyst? – 8 Pointers a good analyst should strive to develop
The 7 Secrets of Good Business Analysts
6 Traits of Highly Effective Data Analysts
What Great Data Analysts Do — and Why Every Organization Needs Them
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Equity Analysts

Monday, April 15, 2019

For Analysts: Teach Them to Fish

"...if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn." ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

How many times does an officer, investigator, or agent come to you and ask you to do a search for something they could easily do themselves? What do you do when this happens?

Your main role as an analyst is to help; however, helping others do what they can do for themselves is  a misuse of your time. You might want to do this occasionally as good public relations to prove your general attitude of helpfulness, but as a work policy you might run yourself ragged doing little tasks. You are training your co-workers to view you as less than you are. Your analytical capacity to do higher level, complicated, more value-added work will be underutilized.

What to do?

One solution:
Say yes but add the caveat - I will do it but I need you to watch me so that you can learn how to do it. After a few times your most persistent requestors will stop asking. Consistently show the requestors how to do their work. Teach them to fish!

Friday, April 12, 2019

#2 Lessons From My Story

I will post a "lesson" from my life as an analyst once a week until I run out of them! Skip over these if they don't interest you. For those who read on, consider the power of your own stories and where they might take you. And if you want to follow these post threads, in the future click on the label "my story."

Expect the Unexpected: #2 Lessons From My Story

It took months and months, from the time to when I took the civil service exam to become a crime analyst, until I actually started. It took even longer to be hired to become Criminal Research Specialist (which had a later title name change to Investigative Analyst) for the United States Secret Service. I applied in a January then was not interviewed until September and then did not start work until the following June - approximately of a year and a half of waiting!

The lesson from this part of my story: have lots of patience!

Another lesson which astounded me when I became a crime analyst which persisted throughout my career: most people in your workplace don't know what you are supposed to do nor what you can do. It saddens me that, nearly twenty-two years later, this is still the reality for many law enforcement analysts.

When I started working at the Buffalo Police Department in 1997, I was the first crime analyst. One naive analyst for 20,000 Part One Crimes! Me, with no computer skills and no one to guide me on site. An overwhelming amount of crime to dig into with an Records Management System in development and no automation, except for a daily posting of crimes on an Intranet that I could read. Progress happens - now there are at least 18 analysts assigned to the county crime analysis unit which includes the city and its suburbs.

I was (fortunately) sent to a lot of training financed by grant funding, training no one else in the department was familiar with. This training saved me - I learned that crime analysis was real and that other crime analysts would help me as I tried to figure out what to do. Thankfully, because expectations were practically non-existent, I had a great deal of time to learn on the job. I joined a listserver, which I learned about from an academic working with the department, and connected to analysts from around the world; their advice helped me so much. This cyber-networking also helped me stay sane in the challenging work world that I found myself working in. I was not isolated. Others were experiencing my challenges - others had surmounted them.

Gil Kerlikowske was the Commissioner of my police department at the time I was hired; he would move on a year later to become Chief of Police in Seattle, then later the Drug Czar of the United States. It was his idea to hire a crime analyst, and then he left. That did not help me. Another mini-lesson here for analysts: when the leader who understand your role leaves, your role will be more difficult until a new law enforcement manager fills his or her shoes.

To have a job where you expect others to tell you what you should do, which is how most normal jobs operate, and instead find yourself in a job that you must invent based on the outside training you get, felt preposterous to me. How unexpected! I did not know this was possible!

Expect the unexpected as a law enforcement analyst - you won't be disappointed! It is the surprise that keeps on giving.

I recently watched the mini-series Manhunt on Acorn TV. In this show, based on a true crime story, the main character, DCI Colin Sutton (played by Martin Clunes of Doc Martin fame) heads an investigative team trying to solve a murder case. He works for the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) and his wife is an analyst with a local level police department. She offers to help him using her analytical tools but he is dismissive of her. Of course, it turns out he solves the case without her help, following his hunches despite those who don't believe he is doing his job right. Yet, I could not help but ponder the role of the analyst, not even believed in her marriage to a law enforcer. The misunderstood, unsupported, lonely life of an analyst...

Make sure you get support from others! You may have to look far and wide for it, but it is there.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Monday, April 8, 2019

10 steps to effective intelligence-led policing (ILP)

10 steps to effective intelligence-led policing (ILP) is a article by Cole Zercoe.

Step "10" in this article is an important one - if police management changes and the new commanders are not committed to ILP, it will, in effect, die... unless it is already solidly embedded in the agency's practices. You cannot have ILP without police management commitment.


Finally, a long-term, sustainable ILP initiative is obviously dependent on the support of leadership – even through a change in leadership. The BJA found this to be a primary concern among all 10 agencies they surveyed, and many of them addressed this issue by having an internal succession plan that ensured the incoming leadership had already committed to the ILP programs. In other agencies, leadership tenure was long enough that the ILP initiatives became institutionalized."

Chattanooga, TN 's PD seems committed to ILP.
New Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy outlines plans for department

WTVC NewsChannel 9
Published on Jun 4, 2015

Friday, April 5, 2019

#1 Lessons From My Story

I will post a "lesson" from my life as an analyst once a week until I run out of them! Skip over these if they don't interest you. For those who read on, consider the power of your own stories and where they might take you. And if you want to follow these post threads, in the future click on the label "my story."

How It Started: #1 Lessons From My Story

On a lovely autumn day in Buffalo (we do have them), my sister showed me a civil service job announcement for the City of Buffalo for the position of Crime Analyst. At that time, she was working for the city and I was working for New York State as a Habilitation Specialist, on a behavioral intervention team that helped the families and caregivers of developmentally disabled individuals of all ages - individuals who had "behavior problems." It was a psychology position wherein I analyzed behaviors and developed plans to hopefully improve the difficult-to-change behaviors. The treatment plans I designed always included very simple statistics and ratios, and often integrated visualization charts for the clients who could not read.

Would I qualify to take the civil service test to become a crime analyst? Somehow I did. And lucky me, because my sister and I shared a love of Agatha Christie novels, she shared the notice of the test; we both thought "crime analyst" sounded quite interesting. I though maybe I could use my grey cells to detect like Hercule Poirot.

Needless to say, I scored high on the exam and qualified for an interview, then I was able to persuade those who interviewed me for the crime analyst position that indeed crime was a behavior and I was good at analyzing behavior. I had NO computer skills and no criminal justice background.

So what is the lesson? Go for it! If you want to be a crime analyst and you are not from the traditional job-seekers' criminal justice educational credentials and/or with law enforcement experience, this does not mean you will not make a good crime analyst. It may be more difficult to get the position, but if you have any chance at all - take it!

The other lesson is this: if you want to hire a good crime analyst, keep an open mind and consider hiring the person who has not followed the common trajectory into the job.

While my story is my own subjective experience, I have other information to support my story lessons in this post. For my book, Out of Bounds: Innovation and Change In Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis, I interviews 52 persons, mainly law enforcement analysts, but including some experts in law enforcement analysis who were not practicing analysts.

Many of these persons did not have a criminal justice educational backgrounds, yet they were successful analyst practitioners. The variety of their educational backgrounds are listed in the book on page 26 - I have listed them below for your consideration. Note the wide variety!

Educational Background of Interview Subjects:

Business Administration
Computer Science
Criminal Justice
Human Resources
Geographic Information Systems
Government Administration
Law Enforcement
Library Science
Mass Communications
Political Science
Public Administration
Public Policy
Urban Planning
Vocational Education

Thursday, April 4, 2019