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Data vs Intel

Having spoken with various law enforcement agencies over the past few months, we noticed a trend that there is a misunderstanding of data analysis and intelligence analysis. There is a divide between command level echelons and lower level echelons as to what is more important in driving down crime rates. Command level echelons, acting as strategic thinkers, utilize data analytics as results produce trend analysis and heat-maps that allow them to allocate their resources to problem areas identified during the analysis. Command level echelons are very focused on saving costs and strategically deploying their resources. This is not a bad thing as command echelons are responsible for items such as manpower and budgets that can be determined by data analytics and give the agency an overall picture of the effectiveness of their agency. But where does this leave the lower level echelons, or tactical thinkers, in terms of developing criminal networks and targeting those individuals that are prolific offenders?

Intelligence analysis or intelligence led policing (ILP) is a shift in strategy from strategic, big picture thinking, to a more tactical application that looks to identify specific individuals that are prolific offenders. Focusing efforts on removing prolific offenders from the community can have an impact on crime rates as prolific offenders influence others within the community.

Intelligence analytics is vastly different from data analytics as the goal is to show how offenders or potential offenders are connected within a community by conducting social network analysis. How people are connected, especially when looking as a criminal organization, can provide investigators and analysts a better picture as to how a criminal organization operates and where they operate within the community. Intelligence analytics will also allow investigators and analysts the opportunity to look at historical information, whether it is ascertained from previous arrests, BOLOs, interview reports, or even community tips. An analyst’s primary responsibility is to be a central conduit for current and past information to flow through, allowing them to build a better picture into the behaviors of prolific offenders or criminal organizations. Using this model, analysts can identify intelligence gaps that may exist and use agency resources to help fill in the identified gaps.

Data analytics has been done for decades within law enforcement agencies to develop crime trends, assess the effectiveness of various units, and allocate resources. These are all strategic level functions that are important to command echelons. The shortcoming of data analytics is that it does not identify prolific offenders or identify intelligence gaps that may exist that are important to making an arrest or identifying other potential offenders. ILP is about combining historical and current intelligence information to drive the removal of prolific offenders from the community. Agencies that only focus on data analytics and ignore ILP are quickly outpaced by agencies that have added the ILP model to their current data analytics model to have a complete strategic and tactical level picture that in combination will drive down the cost of policing by creating a cohesive effort across all echelons.

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