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CPD adding crime analysis program

POSTED January 25, 2012 8:44 a.m.
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The Ceres Police Department has begun the process of creating a crime analysis unit to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its policing functions. To be clear, the objective is to solve more crimes and to do so more quickly and to help prevent crimes before they happen. The use of crime analysis in law enforcement is not new; it has been around for decades and is widely used around the nation.

The city of Ceres was only recently able to fund a crime analysis program with Measure H funds, which were voted into existence in late 2007 and has been used to improve public safety services. Prior to that time, both the police force and fire service in this community were quite understaffed and the Measure H half-cent sales tax has made a considerable impact on the problem. In the policing environment, particularly, the use of crime analysis is very important to make the best use of the officers' time and overall agency resources.

What is crime analysis? It is the function of using all information available, including crime statistics, field interrogation information, officers' knowledge, computerized criminal databases, dispatch center information, informant information, parolee release information, information shared between law enforcement agencies and other sources, to identify crime trends in terms of locations, time frames and likely suspects. A Crime Analyst can serve the role that of an Intelligence Analyst. The analyst studies criminal relationships by linking suspects to criminal organizations or events. This helps in determining who is doing what and with whom in terms of crime.

To some extent, a successful crime analysis program can actually forecast the date, time and location of certain crimes that are likely to occur. Note that I use the word "forecast" instead of predict, since a prediction infers something much more likely than a forecast. Nevertheless, these forecasts are often accurate and lead to arrests or the prevention of crimes before they occur. In more general terms, analyized crime data is used to increase preventative patrols in areas where criminal activity trends so dictate, the information can be used to notify neighborhoods when residents need to increase vigilence, implement increased security measures to safeguard their homes, possessions, vehicles or when to look out for suspicious persons or cars of a particular description. Crime analysts can also perform the same functions with traffic-related data.

Analyzed crime data can help a law enforcement agency develop strategies to control emerging crime trends and assist officers and detectives in developing tactics to identify and locate criminals. In the broader sense, the information is used for budgetary planning purposes and to help the police administration determine the need for any changes, improvements, additional equipment or technology needed to combat the crimes taking place in the community.

In Ceres, the Crime Analyst is a full-time civilian position. Our analyst has records processing experience and has completed state-certified training to perform these analytical functions. Crime analysts, like other professions, have their own professional organizations to help them maintain the most up-to-date knowledge about their jobs, to include new systems, programs, techniques, and any relevant legal issues.

Since the crime anaylsis program is new to Ceres, we can expect some months to pass before it becomes fully operational and that the officers become aquainted with and accustomed to using it. And once it becomes fully integrated here, both the people of this community and our law enforcement agency will be better for it. We have sought to implement this program for many years, but until now, budgetary constraints and other high priorities have made it difficult to pursue. We are grateful for the support of the Ceres City Council, the Ceres Measure H Committee and the taxpayers of this community for helping make this program a reality in our city.
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