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Connect with Your Citizens Anywhere They Want - CityConnect: New Mobile App for Law Enforcement

Statewide Law Enforcement Training Coming to a City Near You

Earlier this year PublicEngines made an announcement that 2014 was going to be The Year of the CustomerOur biggest initiative to come out of that proclamation was to Ensure Your Success. And our first action to accomplish that goal was to create our monthly online training series, Best Practices to Better Crime Analysis. To date, 785 law enforcement officers have registered for the live, online event and now have access to each of the seven different on-demand recorded trainings. Feedback from attendees has been very positive as each class has averaged 9.2 out of 10 in measuring overall satisfaction.

While we’re very happy with those results so far, we aren’t satisfied nor are we settling. So we have now introduced live, single-day, multi-agency state-based law enforcement trainings. We tested the format in Utah and Maryland, covering key topics such as public engagement, barriers to intelligence-led policing, and how to utilize predictive analytics. And as of this writing, Alpha Group Graduate Detective Daniel Seals is in Florida conducting this complimentary training in conjunction with our gracious hosts, the Pinellas Park Police Department.

 

Assistant Chief Haworth addressed the attendees and stressed the importance of teamwork, collaboration and partnership in protecting those we serve.

Assistant Chief Haworth addressed the attendees and stressed the importance of teamwork, collaboration and partnership in protecting those we serve.

These events too have been a great success as attendees from more than 100 agencies indicated the content was highly relevant and applicable for their jobs  - see an overview of the event here.

Which brings me to our next topic: PublicEngines wants to bring a training to a city near you. Training is an essential element to the success of any law enforcement agency’s efforts to effectively police their jurisdiction. As Detective Seals has often mentioned, “You wouldn’t give a deputy a new firearm without properly training them.” We whole-heartedly agree with that sentiment when it comes to technology. It isn’t enough to provide access to crime data and analysis tools if you can’t pull actionable intelligence out of it. So our goal of Ensuring Your Success really comes to life when you’re able to connect past crime data to actionable intelligence by understanding how to use the technology made available in a practical and tactical way through a live, in-person event.

Calling All Agencies. Host a Law Enforcement Training for Your State

Throughout the rest of 2014 and beyond we’re looking to identify key partner-agencies that would like to participate in this effort by hosting a multi-agency event in their local training facility. With your willingness, PublicEngines will organize the curriculum, cater breakfast and lunch, and promote the training through email and phone calls to agencies concentrated within your immediate vicinity and throughout the state. Besides being able to receive complimentary training on topics like Interjurisdictional Data Sharing, Intelligence Led Policing, and Predictive Analytics among others, attendees benefit from the ability to network with officials from local, state, and federal agencies. And in some instances have been able to use this event to satisfy their annual training requirements.

If your agency would like to participate by hosting one of these special events, I invite you to send me an email at: robert.voccola@publicengines.com expressing your interest. While we won’t be able to accept every volunteer for 2014, all states and agencies are encouraged and welcomed to submit their interest in becoming a training partner with PublicEngines for their state. Cheers to Ensuring Your Success in 2014 and beyond.

Historical Address Searches with CommandCentral

One of my favorite tasks as an intelligence analyst was to find correlations between location, suspect, and crime committed.  I can tell you firsthand however that all of the fun is taken out of that when an analyst has to do it with paper records and reports.  When I was a detective assigned to Internet crimes, I was truly a “paper hound”.  Finding details within paper and electronic records was for me, an exciting task.  I know it sounds very mundane, but finding connections where there seemed to be no connections is truly were the detective work or the work of Intel analyst rises to the top.  It is for this reason that my favorite function within CommandCentral Analytics is the key word search function.  For it is within this function that I can search a suspect’s name, business name or specific address to generate a list and map of the criminal activities that occurred around the search terms.

The first thing you need to begin this type of search is a bit of a change in your mind set.  The searches do not involve focusing on bulk sets of data, instead you should be focusing on specific addresses or neighborhoods, or family groups and specific family members coupled together with specific crime types and date ranges.  As you begin to see clusters of the same suspect or family group committing a certain type of crime in a particular area of your jurisdiction, you should then add further crime types, one by one, to visualize whether or not that suspect or family group is committing multiple crime types within the same area.  This is especially useful in investigations that revolve around gang activity.  In general, gangs have an area that they frequent and function their criminal activities around.  On the same note, gangs often have certain crime types that they specialize in.  This type of search ability allows the Intel analyst to present a clear picture of criminal activity perpetrated by one person or a group of people within a geographic area.

This method of searching within CommandCentral Analytics can produce results that are extremely gratifying and quite granular.  This is specifically the type of information that is necessary to affect tactical organizations such as; gang units, narcotics units, as well as violent crime or robbery units.  Historically this information has been difficult to obtain simply because it required the analyst to pour through a myriad of documents by hand, painstakingly taking out the specific information deemed necessary by the investigation.  Now, by using this search technique within CommandCentral Analytics, Intel analysts are much better equipped to efficiently generate reports that are immediately and tactically actionable.

Crime Dashboards Should be Used In Every Department

So what exactly is a crime dashboard?  Is this just another buzz term within law enforcement or is it truly something to be utilized to drive the department’s crime-fighting efforts? To be honest, my first thought at the word is something we’re all familiar with: the dashboard in your cruiser. It’s the central hub of your patrol car that gives you an overview on the over all health of your vehicle – amount of gas in the tank, temperature of the engine, oil pressure, speed odometer, tachometer, etc.  But that clearly isn’t the same thing.

When discussing dashboards in technology applications, business executives are very familiar with the term. They’ve been using business intelligence dashboard for clear over a

Executive BI Dashboard

Executive BI Dashboard

decade. It’s purpose is similar to the car dashboard: to inform the manager of the over all health of the company by measuring key performance indicators, like monthly revenue, number of new customers, number of renewals, and so on.

 

Likewise, a crime dashboard’s main objective should be to give you an overview of crime trends in your jurisdiction. I call this the who, what, why, when, where of crime intelligence. It should be easy to read and even easier to use in order to make policy decisions that are right for your county, city, or town. Now, there is more than one way to build a crime dashboard, so I’m going to discuss below the most important considerations for creating my own department’s crime dashboard.

But first we need to ask ourselves: what needs to be included in your crime dashboards – crime type, suspect information, narratives, maps? The answer is certainly all of these and even more. Now I will grant you this, without a specific software program that assists you in creating your crime dashboard, it can be a real chore to piece this information together by manual means, but it can be done. This is where I started before using CommandCentral Analytics, which I used for many years.

Crime Dashboards Provide Agencies an Overview of Crime at a single glance.

Crime Dashboards Provide Agencies an Overview of Crime at a single glance.

A specific software platform will certainly make the creation of your crime dashboards a much easier process – essentially a matter of minutes instead of hours or even days. I have found that the best practice tenants that I’m about to outline ring true no matter which method you use to create your dashboards. In reference to the points I’m about to make, I contend that your aim is to have all pertinent information on one screen and have the ability to drill down within your dashboard to gain greater insight.

 Considerations When Creating A Crime Dashboard

1. Make sure that you can see where your crimes have occurred.

This is generally achieved through a map visualization. I like to also supplement the mapping function with something such as a pie chart or bar chart to break down the number of occurrences with in a specific beat or zone by crime type.

2. Make sure that you can see when you’re crimes have occurred.

In this case I typically use a Time of Day/Day of Week Heat Map.  This map easily displays, through a hot/cold style visualization when the crimes are occurring by a cross-reference of time of day and day of week. That being said, this information can also be displayed in a number of other ways such as; a combination bar chart displaying the time of day and day of week.  It is very important to remember that the time of day and day of week need to both be included.  Simply looking at the time of day or the day of week on their own leaves too many questions to be answered by your viewer.

3. Make sure that the who and what of your crimes can be easily viewed.

This is undoubtedly the most difficult suggestion that I will give you.  The reason it is the most difficult is because it is the most expansive information, and thus the ability to drill down within a visual on your dashboard is invaluable. Really the only way to do this without a piece of software such as CommandCentral Analytics would be to create a secondary list that you could attach to your original dashboard. Logging in to your RMS to view this information individually simple takes too much time and negates the dashboard purpose. However, within CommandCentral Analytics I used the list function for this visual which allowed me the ability to see all the specific information about the crimes I have chosen including the responsible or reporting officer and their entire narrative.

4. Make sure your dashboards are set up in an intelligent manner and in the proper mindset for their intent.

The dashboards you create can be for a number of purposes as well as a number of divisions within your department.  Ensure that when you create each dashboard it makes sense for the application it is being created for.  For instance, a tactical dashboard for a specific narcotics case should be as specific to that case in all of its visuals as well as its time parameters as it can be.  On the other hand, a dashboard that has been created to follow a strategic plan over a long term set of crimes should be modified with time, location, and other factors so as to aid in the long term planning of the specific crime-fighting series.

To sum up, your dashboards should not be viewed as cookie cutters for every situation.  Although I believe there are certainly a set of best practice procedures that should be followed to give each of your dashboards maximum effect and usability, I also would direct you to be as individualistic as possible with each dashboard in terms to the specific problem it has been created to address. Every dashboard that you create should directly lead your agency into the proper actionable, intelligence-led decisions that will ultimately aid in reducing crime.