By Mark Bond, professor of criminal justice at American Military University
One of the most important technological advancements to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement is the use of crime mapping software. Crime mapping is computer software that allows agencies to track the types of crimes occurring in a jurisdiction as well as the date, time, and geographical location of crimes.
By plotting what, when, and where crimes are occurring, law enforcement executives can use the resulting visual data to identify crime hotspots. Departments can use this information to allocate uniformed patrol officers and/or undercover surveillance units to areas of repeated criminal activity.
This software is also a useful reporting tool because it can generate the crime statistics required to fulfill the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR) mandatory reporting requirements.
The Need for Crime Analysts
As crime mapping software becomes more sophisticated and increasingly critical to agency operations, departments will need to hire more trained and professional crime analysts. Crime analysts, sometimes referred to as criminal intelligence analysts, are an increasingly necessary resource in today’s policing agencies. Criminal analysts bring insight into cybercrime mapping and also facilitate sharing of criminal intelligence across agencies.
Each department has specific responsibilities and unique topography that requires skilled crime analysts who can optimize the mapping software based on specific jurisdictional needs. Customizing crime mapping software increases a department’s ability to efficiently allocate resources. For example, many departments are able to merge data from the computer aided dispatch (CAD) system to provide patrol supervisors with real-time crime mapping strategies.
Many departments choose to hire civilian (non-sworn) crime analysts to manage crime mapping efforts, gather and analyze data, and present information in a visual-friendly display for department supervisors to use for tactical, operational, and strategic planning.
The role of the crime analyst will continue to evolve as technology advances. Educated and well-trained crime analysts who want to make a career supporting the needs of law enforcement agencies and the community should find many opportunities.
Types of Crime Mapping Software
There are many software programs used for different crime mapping analysis strategies, including:
- GIS/Mapping Software
- Geographic Profiler
- SPIDER Crime Series Analysis Software
- BAIR Analytics
Which crime-mapping system does your agency use? Has it proven useful in identifying crime trends in your jurisdiction? Have you considered becoming a crime analyst?
About the Author: Mark Bond worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms trainer for more than 29 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state, and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in Criminal Justice, and M.Ed in Educational Leadership with Summa Cum Laude Honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education with a concentration in distance education. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at American Military University & American Public University and is one of the faculty directors in the School of Public Service & Health. You can contact him at Mark.Bond@mycampus.apus.edu.