An Analyst’s Perspective on Information Sharing

Imagine there is a criminal offender who lives within the boundaries of one law enforcement agency’s jurisdiction, who commits the majority of his crimes within a neighboring agency’s jurisdiction, and who has associates spread throughout multiple jurisdictions who commit their crimes across these agencies’ boundaries.

Now, take this scenario one step further: you are a crime analyst, who has identified a pattern of robberies in a particular area with a suspect description matching this offender. If this offender is indeed responsible for these robberies, you and your officers are going to require all of the information available on this offender, including contacts with neighboring agencies and names, addresses, and criminal histories of his associates.

To add more details to this scenario, you are the analyst charged with this task, and you do not live or work within the jurisdiction of your agency; you live one thousand miles away from your agency, and you are tasked with compiling a report on these robberies in conjunction with the information you can gather on this potential suspect and any associates.

For me, this is the norm. I live in Colorado, and my agency is in Minnesota. Yet, every day I analyze my agency’s data and compile actionable reports for the officers to provide further insight as to the crimes we are experiencing throughout our jurisdiction. I am able to do this because of one simple concept: data sharing, readily available to me through the LexisNexis’ product, Accurint® Crime Analysis.

Now, anyone who has worked with the ins and outs of data sharing will tell you that it is far from simple, and that is true. However, the outcome of data sharing is surely rewarding. Data sharing allows me to work as a remote analyst for a law enforcement agency. Data sharing allows my agency to view other agencies’ data in order to complete the picture of crimes throughout the greater metro area. And data sharing allows law enforcement agencies to understand the operations of criminals outside of their own agency’s boundaries.

My agency is a transit police department, thus their jurisdiction crosses paths with multiple law enforcement agencies; it is pertinent that my agency sees what crime trends other surrounding agencies are experiencing, so that we can properly prepare for these crime trends as well as inform surrounding agencies of the crime trends that we are experiencing.

Not only is it important for analysts and officers alike to understand the crime patterns within other agencies, but it is also pertinent that we understand who is participating in these crimes. Criminals do not operate within clean-cut city limits or precinct zones; criminals operate where there is opportunity. With data sharing, law enforcement is able to see not only the list of activity in a criminal’s record, but also the geographic area of these offenses.

If a “new” offender appears on my radar and is committing crimes at an accelerating rate, I am easily able to verify if other agencies have had previous contacts with this offender, in order to get the full story on his criminal record and perhaps offer some insight into his current behavior. Because I am able to closely examine this offender’s criminal history, I can also look for any weapons or violent offenses that I should warn my officers about so that they may be on alert and protect themselves.

A criminal’s history is not the only data component that interests me; I am also interested in the criminal’s associates. Where has this criminal previously resided? With whom is he related? Are there any relations that are also gang associates? Are there any family members who also have a propensity for crime?

In my agency, one of our concerns is juvenile gangs. These juveniles typically use public transportation to get from point A to point B. Some of them have had previous contacts with our agency or surrounding agencies. Some of these juveniles carry weapons, have a history of theft and disorderly behavior, or are involved with drugs; this behavior does not stop once they board a bus.

What data sharing in Accurint Crime Analysis allows me to do, as an analyst for a law enforcement agency, is know not only the “what”, “when”, “where”, and “who” of the crime, but the “who else?” Yes, sixteen year-old John Doe has a history of thefts and narcotics violations, but with whom does he associate? Who else has been arrested with him in the past? What is their criminal history? Does John Doe have family members who have had run-ins with my officers before?

These questions serve a purpose; by knowing the “what”, “when”, “where”, and “who” of each crime, I can better understand the trends and patterns within my agency. Thanks to the data sharing capabilities of Accurint Crime Analysis, I can also understand the trends and patterns within other agencies, to see if there are any possible connections to mine, so that we can work together to stop these crimes from continuing.

LexisNexis is committed to investing in innovation to support the law enforcement community. Learn about how Accurint® Virtual Crime Center links public records to law enforcement data with analytics for the entire agency.

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