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FRESH IDEAS IN PUBLIC SAFETY


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      • Prevention, Disruption, and Enforcement: A Future Vision For Intelligence-Led Policing

        Published 22 days ago by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Crime Analytics
        • Law Enforcement

        Congratulations, you’re set up, you've had your meetings, and everyone is on the same page about Intelligence-led policing. This is going to be the next best thing since radios and Velcro duty belts! But, alas, I've saved the hardest for the last, putting intelligence-led policing into long term action. Intelligence-led policing is not something that can be tried for a season and then put on the shelf.

        In this blog series we have discussed how it must be the heart of an organization wide approach at policing. Intelligence-led policing, like most new things to your department, will take an adjustment period for everyone to become comfortable in using it. No more will what I call the “shotgun method” of patrolling be adequate or effective in your police department. The “shotgun method” of patrolling would be just driving aimlessly around in your zone checking your buildings, answering calls, and otherwise seeing if you can drive up on something. No, as you learned, there is a much more effective way to direct your patrols to where they need to be and when they need to be there by using the intelligence that you already have at your disposal. By using geographic maps, hotspot maps, and time of day/day of week charts, to direct patrols, your officers stand a much greater chance to prevent or disrupt a criminal pattern in their area.

        Patrol will not be the only beneficiary of your new intelligence-led policing initiative, your department's special teams will certainly benefit from your newfound directive. I'm a big believer in specialized reports for special teams such as: narcotics, traffic, detective bureau and SWAT. In my career I created specialized reports for narcotics that not only showed the house that they were investigating, but the houses in close proximity that were also dealing narcotics. The obvious benefit of these reports would be to show possible networks of narcotics sales localized in certain neighborhoods. An added benefit, and a safety benefit, would be to use those maps when planning undercover operations so as not to base your operation near a house with similar criminal activity that might compromise your location.

        For my traffic teams, reports on specific streets where the most speeding tickets were written might indicate where we would need to set up a speed reduction device such as a traffic monitoring trailer or red light camera. I routinely produced reports based solely on the cases assigned to my detectives division separated by property and persons crimes. I was able to show, through various visualizations, where the majority of each zone assigned detectives cases were originating from, and from a historical view of that report, estimate the seasonal caseload that each detective might expect so that they might focus on their most prolific and serious offenders.  

        And for my SWAT team, I was able to create a report that showed, through the use of geographical satellite maps and criminal activity overlay, the best possible access route to a target location. For instance, I would create a map with a target location in the center of the map. I would then overlay similar crimes along the planned route to that target location. With that information, we were able to best layout our safest route to the target location, avoiding any locations with similar criminal activity in order to minimize the possibility of conflict or identification before the target location.

        My best advice to you and your department as you begin this new intelligence-led policing chapter, would be to look outside the box that we all create for ourselves within each department. Ask yourself, how would this information, visualized in a different way, help better our department? Ask your staff, if you could improve one thing about how you receive information on crimes, what would it be? Then work with those suggestions to tailor your intelligence-led policing approach specifically toward your department's needs. Do not assume that just because you are used to a certain reporting style or visualization, that that is the best way or the only way to create that report.

        Like most cops, I have a strange sense of humor, and therefore really enjoy de-motivational posters. You know, the ones that look like motivational posters, but actually have a cynical or smart alec way of looking at things. My favorite of these posters kind of sums up my approach to breaking out of our predetermined boxes to reach new levels of policing. It’s a picture of a group of men in the “Running of the Bulls”, and in this picture, one of the men is about to get the business end of a bull if you know what I mean. The caption on the poster reads “Tradition. Just because we've always done it this way, doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.”  

        As always, feel free to check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that will help you turn big data into actionable intelligence and start you down the path to becoming an intelligence-led agency.

        Read Pt. I, Pt. II, Pt. III, Pt. IV and Pt. V of the series.

        Daniel Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

      • Solving Two Homicides Cements The Value Of Crime Analysis

        Published 38 days ago by Jeff O'Dell
        • Intelligence
        • Crime Analytics

        Implementing intelligence-led policing and CommandCentral Analytics was a new thing for our officers. And you know cops. You can ask them to go out and patrol a neighborhood or maybe check businesses based on what the analytics say, but until they have that first success, they may or may not buy into the new philosophy or technology.

        But, that one success will make all the difference.

        Early on, there was an unfortunate situation we encountered. We had some kids that were going around and randomly shooting at houses and even at people. It was the first time in a long time that not only the entire agency worked together but we worked very well with the Sheriff’s Office to share information and combine our resources to go capture these kids.

        Within 17 days from the first round that they fired out of their gun, we had them captured, had them arrested and solved two homicides. I think that was a huge eye-opener for our agency to say, “Wait a minute, you know, this stuff does work. When we use analysts and we share information and when we talk and work collectively, we’re much better than if we try to do it by ourselves.” We were able to give our officers better information to direct their focus and give them a purpose. We had that first, critical success, and now they’ve bought in.

        To learn more about our story, visit www.motorolasolutions.com/kissimmee.

        Jeff O’Dell is Chief of Police at Kissimmee Police Department in Kissimmee, FL.

      • The Power of Crime Analytics Takes Down a Burglary Ring

        Published 38 days ago by Metre Lewis
        • Intelligence
        • Crime Analytics

        As Crime Analysts, we are the hub for all information. A lot of information comes to us from not only our agency, but from other agencies as well, and we are responsible for digesting that and sending it back out to our officers in a usable form.

        With the introduction of CommandCentral Analytics, we have been able to come in and be more proactively responsive to crime. We’re not responding 10 days later, we’re responding immediately to what’s going on. We’re able to direct resources immediately to a crime problem, solve that crime problem by either displacing it or making an arrest and make people feel safe.

        One specific example is when we had a series of restaurant burglaries that were occurring. With the help of CommandCentral Analytics we were able to give our detectives and officers a list of where we thought the next crimes were going to occur. We made a significant arrest in just a matter of weeks and with that, we found a complete burglary ring out of Texas operating here in Florida.

        CommandCentral Analytics has changed the way we do our jobs immensely. It’s taken a lot of the manual processes that we would have to do like trying to figure out the time of day and event that’s happening. We can actually look at all of that disparate information in one place and analyze from there. That’s the power of CommandCentral Analytics.

        To learn more about our story, visit www.motorolasolutions.com/kissimmee.

        Metre Lewis is a Crime Analyst at Kissimmee Police Department in Kissimmee, FL.

      • Break The Mold: Adopting Intelligence-Led Policing In Command Staff Meetings

        Published 42 days ago by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Law Enforcement

        So you are nearly ready to kick intelligence-led policing into high gear! Your data is right, your training is in place, your command structure and your officers are ready to go. So now what? The next step is admittedly a step that very few of us enjoy, meetings. Meetings are however integral to the survival of intelligence-led policing. Strategic and tactical meetings are the most effective methods of disseminating “game plan” information throughout your department. Don't think of these meetings in the same terms that you think about the meetings you currently have at your department. These meetings should have a completely different feel to them. Instead of meetings filled with facts and spreadsheets, these meetings should go way beyond simple numbers. They should delve into the “now what?” questions.

        Let’s look at your staff meeting for instance, in general most staff meetings are simple crime numbers and maybe a few maps. The meeting generally sounds like this; “we had five of these, 12 of those, blah blah blah”, on and on. Keep in mind I'm speaking from experience here, if I am poking fun at anyone, then I am poking at myself. The very staff meeting that I began with was built around the basic Comp Stat concept. While there is certainly nothing wrong with Comp Stat, the way we were utilizing the method, left us with PowerPoint slides with raw number data and certainly no “now what?”. Following the teachings of intelligence-led policing, we transformed our staff meeting to a series of reports based on raw numbers, to a fully interactive crime fighting meeting. We did not just look at and study our current crime trends, we compared those trends to historical patterns to assist us in determining the possibility of future patterns. I spoke earlier about strategic and tactical meetings and the importance of having both. Using what we have learned from intelligence-led policing, we were able to utilize our staff meeting for both long-term strategic planning as well as short-term tactical crime-fighting plans.

        Let me explain what I mean. To begin I transformed our PowerPoint staff meeting presentation from slides of sheer numbers, to slides that not only had the raw numbers, they also included; charts, satellite maps, heat maps, graphs, and time of day/day of week charts to name some of the new visualizations. I did not however keep myself handcuffed to just the PowerPoint. While using a PowerPoint style presentation in your command staff meetings is very important especially when it comes to recordkeeping, you need to be able to go beyond simple slides and step into making your meetings interactive. The way I bridged that gap was by having a large drop down screen in the middle our meeting room, and then I had two flat screen televisions flanking both sides of that large drop down screen. The flat screen televisions were hooked directly to a laptop that I was controlling so that I could show live and historical data to my command staff that was in conjunction with the PowerPoint presentation. A typical meeting would consist of reviewing the past months crime data; what had happened, where it happened, and when it happened. In most meetings, however, questions would arise in relation to crimes that might have a common thread, a common suspect, or a common geographic area. These questions quite often concerned crimes that occurred in the previous month, which we were meeting on, and the current month, which we had just begun. When these questions arose the meeting instantly went from strategic to tactical and we were able to accomplish this shift by switching from our PowerPoint, to our crime data feed.

        I encourage you to begin the transformation of your department's meetings with your command staff meeting, and then use that general template for your other meeting needs. If you begin with your staff meetings, it is an excellent vehicle for instructing your command staff on this new intelligence-led policing meeting style. It will also allow your command staff to become comfortable enough to conduct their own meetings using this much more efficient and effective style of crime-fighting.

        Stay tuned as I provide a couple unique ideas for how to progress your intelligence-led policing in my next blog. Until then, check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that will help start transforming your meetings from ordinary, to intelligence-led.

        Read Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.

        Daniel Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

      • Maps, Charts and Graphs, Oh My! Getting Your Personnel Familiar With Being Crime Analysts

        Published 58 days ago by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Law Enforcement

        So you have all this data, now what to do with it. This is your next stumbling block along the road to true intelligence-led policing. Many agencies make the mistake of thinking data itself is intelligence, this is simply not the case. Very little is further from the truth when it comes to intelligence-led policing. Data is the brick and mortar upon which intelligence is built, but like lone bricks, without being put together properly, it will not support anything.  

        So, how do you put all of your newly found data together so that it can work for you and your staff? There are a number of ways to present your data; the best rule of thumb for this is to know your staff. How does your staff best understand data, maps, charts, graphs, etc.? Most cops are visual beings, so if you are unsure of the answer to the previous question, maps are a great place to start. So let’s use maps as our example. Cops know their beats; start with a map showing the crime in each beat/zone for the last month. But don’t stop there. Do the same map for the last three months for comparison and the same months last year. When you have created these maps, it will be clear that your jurisdiction has crime patterns. Don’t keep the maps for yourself, distribute them to your staff and teach them how to recognize the normal patterns from the abnormal.  

        Charts, maps, graphs and any other way you choose to distribute your intelligence can be intimidating to your staff. Keep in mind, they have never seen information presented to them in this way and moreover they have never been expected to fully embrace something so new and so foreign in a quick manner. I have found that using staff meetings to first teach your command staff how to understand this new approach, is the best way to introduce them. If you can wow them, they will spread the word to the rest of the staff.  

        So, how to wow them… show them the crime patterns we spoke of earlier, show them that the crime in your jurisdiction is predictable from year to year and therefore, month to month. I did just this in one of my very first staff meetings. I presented a graph that showed that our part one crimes for the last three years were predictable within a variable of 25 to 30 crimes, some within 5 to 10 crimes. You want an attention getter, that’s an attention getter! Within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the staff meeting, I had front line officers at my office door asking about my “crystal ball”.

        Stay tuned as I dive into using intelligence-led policing to break the monotonous mold in my next blog. Until then, check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that can put the “crystal ball” in your hands too.

        Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

        Daniel (D.J.) Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

      • Time To Take Out The Trash! Good Crime Analysis Relies On Clean Data

        Published Sep 19 2017, 4:19 PM by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Law Enforcement

        So you’re getting into intelligence-led policing? But have you taken a look at your own data sets? And I mean a real good look. Over and over again I see departments make mistakes by going out and purchasing mapping software, intelligence software, and the like, put it immediately to use and then disagree with the output they receive. I speak to many of these departments, and after a quick look into their main data sets I find that they are falling into the old adage of garbage in, garbage out.

        So if you fall into the category I just described, you are by far not alone. As a matter of fact I would venture to say that you are in the majority. I even made the same mistakes when I began our intelligence-led policing initiative. I remember I was so excited to get going with our new software that I never bothered to really look at the data that I was putting into the system. After all, I had been using our records management system for 20 years, surely the data in it is correct, right? What I found was a resounding answer of no, it was not good data. Now don't get me wrong the basics of the data were correct, the type of crime, suspect, victim, things like that were solid. What was not so correct, however, was our mapping data and how our crime types translated into our software. Let's talk about a couple of things that you can do to turn your bad data into good data.

        First let's talk about mapping. Very few mapping systems, whether you are using GIS or some other type of mapping system, are always spot on. The reasons for these inaccuracies vary widely. From inaccurate GIS mapping at the onset, to duplicate addresses in your city that are only separated by a North-South or East-West designation, or simply user mistake at time of input.  Although I could not change these map points in my records management system (which would typically be your most logical fix), I could change them in our software. With just a few steps I was able to take my map, with an average of 150 inaccuracies a month, and turn it into a completely accurate crime map, with no inaccuracies.

        Now that we have fixed your mapping problem, let's talk about making sure your crime types are in the proper categories in order for you to get the proper Intel. Depending upon county, state, or locality, crime terms can vary widely. For instance, in my state, we don't use the term larceny, we use theft instead. We don't use the term embezzlement; we use a variety of codes under fraud. While these computer systems seem to do it all, it is our duty to make sure that our information is laid out correctly within our systems. If the data is in the wrong category, when you run a report on a specific crime type, you will be missing data in your final report. Luckily, our software allowed us to make crime type adjustments and rules for translation from our records management system. But similarly to the mapping, if your software doesn’t have that feature, you may otherwise have to make those adjustments directly to the records themselves.

        Without accurate data, it is impossible to do the crime analysis that aids your intelligence-led policing initiatives. This year let's make sure to strengthen our actionable intelligence by cleaning up our bad data.

        Coming up next we’ll discuss how to get your agency personnel familiar with using all the new capabilities at your disposal with a purpose-built crime analytics solution. Until then, check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions so your mapping issues are a thing of the past.

        Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. 

        Daniel (D.J.) Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

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