As the title Crime Analyst implies, we analyze crime. But what about all the non-criminal events that get reported every day? If we choose to simply ignore them then we’re leaving out a very significant piece of the entire law enforcement picture and neglecting to fill our professional role.
This is the significance of examining non-criminal events. So let’s get started thinking about how we might be able to make better use of this data.
A quick look at incidents reported in a one hour window yesterday revealed that our Communications center generated 17 incidents during that time. Only three of these incidents involved actual crimes including a sexual assault, a heroin overdose, and a motor vehicle violation.
All the other incidents involved non-criminal events including a verbal domestic dispute, a concerned citizen reporting an open residential door, a motorist in need assistance after his vehicle got stuck where the Sewer Dept. was working to replace a grate, an elderly assist for a woman who had fallen and needed help getting up, and a lot of police-initiated incidents for departmental work like investigations, serving warrants, and serving restraining orders.
Your department is likely to have a similar breakdown of incidents, maybe not so much insofar as the substance of the calls, but as far as the ratio of criminal to non-criminal events. I.e., the overwhelming majority of incidents are probably for non-criminal events.
Making good use of this information might require going above and beyond the traditional role of an analyst. You have the data (and power) to easily identify people in your community who might be at risk, who might benefit from some type of services, or who might show signs of potential to escalate from non-criminal behavior to criminal behavior. Making connections within your Department as well as with other professionals in your community will allow you to help citizens in a very real way, reduce the number of future calls concerning specific people or events surrounding specific circumstances, ultimately freeing up limited police resources. Perhaps you’ll even prevent a crime.
That domestic dispute…can you perform a dangerousness assessment on both parties? Is there anything in either party’s history suggesting risk factors or the potential to escalate? The elder who fell and needed assistance… can you refer her to Elder Services? They likely have a Fall Prevention Program aimed at educating seniors on how to minimize their fall risk. How about the stuck vehicle (which might have caused consequential traffic-related issues during a critical commute time)? The Police and Sewer Departments can work together to prevent such incidents while grates are actively being worked on. What about mental health in your community and its relationship with crime and disorder? Homelessness? How can you use non-criminal events to help alleviate the social factors associated with criminal and non-criminal events?