Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts > Blog > 2014 > May > 07 > Breathing New Life Into Your Analysis

Breathing New Life Into Your Analysis

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Stuck in a rut? So many of the tasks we perform are done on a daily or other routine basis that it's easy to find yourself doing the same thing day in and day out. And while that might get you by, try to never fall victim to adopting the "good enough for government work" adage; working yourself into a rut of mundane routine can result in stale products and an audience that quickly loses interest in your work. Instead, challenge yourself every week or two do something new that will keep things "fresh", keep your PD interested in the work that you do and impressed with your dedication to develop and hone your skills. This is not only an investment in your community and your Agency, but an important investment in yourself.

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It won't take much to wow your audience. You need not spend weeks working on an intricate link analysis for a crime series that will be long over with by the time you finish charting it. Simply stay connected with the people in your agency and you'll discover endless ways to support them with celerity and ease. In my experience, many people don't know what it is that they want, that they can ask for it, or how to ask for it. Don't be afraid to take the initiative to do something that you weren't asked for and say, "Here, I thought this might be useful to you for your next meeting". People will be impressed with your initiative and professionalism, never mind the work that you've done. It will inspire *some* people to come up with ideas of their own and to ask you for more assistance. Building these bridges is what keeps analytical gears moving smoothly in your agency.

As a short example to this point, I used to work with a Detective Sergeant when I first started working as a crime analyst, providing statistical and analytical support on domestic violence cases. My responsibilities broadened over the years to include much more than just domestic cases, his specialized Unit eventually got absorbed into our Detective Bureau, and ultimately another analyst took over my former role. Several years went by without much contact between him and I other than a passing "hello" in the hall here and there (which can easily happen in a department this size). Recently I did some work on escalating offenders using arrests as an indicator, and decided to apply the same concept to domestic offenders using incident involvement as an indicator. This yielded a short list of about a dozen or so names of people who had had 3 consecutive years of increased domestic violence incident involvements as an arrestee/suspect. No one asked me for this, but I thought it might be useful.

I brought the list of "escalating offenders" up to this Detective Sergeant, who with appreciation took the list, looked it over, and then pulled a 3X5" index card out of his pocket (old school record keeping in Worcester dies hard with the veteran cops) that coincidentally had the name of one of the offenders on my list written on it… It was someone he was currently looking into for a domestic-related incident. 

He then asks if we (an of course by "we" he meant "yours truly") can expand on the list and add any other violent history outside the domestic realm. "Yes", I reply. Then another detective walks in and the Detective Sergeant makes a copy of the list for him. Turns out this Detective attends a monthly meeting with other local agencies and groups to identify high risk/dangerous domestic offenders. He asks if we can find out which offenders are gang-involved. "Yes", I reply, with a grin. "Can we get a list of all the offenders who have prior firearm charges?". "Yes", I reply again, more than a little excited to head back downstairs and get to work building a few new queries. Today he emailed me and asked if we could incorporate attempted murder and stalkng charges to the existing weapons data I pulled. "Yes", I reply, excited to have another query to build. And just like that, with a small amount of unsolicited toughtfulness, the door of communication flung wide open, a conversation began, ideas started flowing and haven't stopped flowing, and new life was breathed into a topic.

 

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