Gang crime analysis gives law enforcement the ability to consider the most educated, timely and pragmatic options when making time-sensitive, proactive operational decisions relating to ongoing anti-gang efforts. Gang crime analysis can be described as the process of evaluating data for reliability, validity, quality and relevance. Gang crime analysis often involves processing information from numerous sources, so integration and evaluation of the data is prudent.
A proper gang prosecution starts with a police report that correctly identifies all persons involved in the incident, describes the arrest of the offenders and documents the gang relationships of the entire incident. A follow-up analysis of the crime includes accurate assessments of gang operations and current profiles of key gang members or associates. Because analysis starts with identifying the crime as gang-related, it’s highly recommended that departments keep an incident log and provide department-wide briefings on all gang-related incidents to keep officers updated on gang activity.
Gang crime analysis should include, but not be limited to, the following types of information.
Proper analysis of all of the above, in conjunction with tech tools such as surveillance cameras and crime-tracking software, can be of tremendous assistance to officers handling investigations. It can help map gang crime and highlight potential high-risk areas; identify turf boundaries and hangouts; and modify patrol or special unit schedules so that they’re working when gang crimes are most likely occurring. From an intelligence viewpoint, there’s no substitute for a comprehensive knowledge of the gang members themselves. Knowing who the individual gang bangers are, where they hang out, what activities they engage in and when they commit their crimes will all help immensely in the analysis stage of an investigation.
Below are some of the latest programs and tactics agencies are using to analyze gang crime.
The acronym CompStat, short for COMPuter STATistics or COMParative STATistics, represents computer comparison statistics. It’s the name given to the NYPD's accountability process and has since been replicated across the country. In weekly meetings, ranking NYPD executives meet with local precinct commanders from one of the eight patrol boroughs in New York City to discuss problems. They then formulate strategies and tactics to solve problems, reduce crime and ultimately improve the quality of life in their assigned area.
CompStat is a philosophy and organizational management tool for police departments to map crime and identify problems. The program provides a dynamic approach to crime reduction, quality-of-life improvements and personnel/resource management by using computer statistics and timely input of data, while also tracking hot spots and placing resources in the proper place at the proper time.
The first step in CompStat’s method of accountability was to develop accurate and timely intelligence. The data and findings, collected by police reports and crime analysts, are discussed at biweekly meetings in a formalized process which includes management, supervisors, crime analysts and other impacted city department managers. The data is presented using computer programs that show geographically impacted areas, patterns and trends of crimes.
The second step is to develop effective crime suppression tactics. During this phase, there’s the benefit of having a problem brainstormed. Strategies and tactics are developed based on the data collected by the crime analysts.
The third step is rapid deployment of personnel and resources. Sharing of resources and manpower is discussed and acted upon at this stage. Decisions made to allocate and assign manpower and resources are immediate. The idea is to handle the crime trends and patterns in an expeditious manner without prolonged periods of paperwork and bureaucracy.
The final step of CompStat is the follow-up and assessment stage. CompStat has the responsibility of providing statistical, administrative and tactical analysis of criminal activity and department operations to improve service delivery and allocation of critical police resources. CompStat also improves the flow of information both internally and externally. This is achieved by identifying crime patterns, crime series, emerging trends within the city, tracking known offenders and by assisting patrol and investigations in identifying potential offenders and specific crime problems and actively supporting prosecutions.
A geographic information system (GIS), also known as a geospatial information system, is any system for capturing, storing, analyzing, editing, integrating, sharing, managing and displaying geographically referenced data. In a more generic sense, GIS is a tool that allows users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze the spatial information, edit data and maps, and present the results of all the operations. GIS doesn’t replace a law enforcement agency’s process of collecting and storing information in a database. Instead, it enhances the agency’s ability to use the data.
GIS usage enhances a police officer’s time on the streets. An officer with access to GIS software and additional datasets, such as parolee and probationer data, can run queries from a laptop in the patrol car and check how many parolees or probationers were recently released on their beat, the conditions of their release and if they have violated any of these conditions. In addition to plotting the geographical attributes of criminal phenomena, law enforcement agencies seek answers to why a specific crime occurs in a certain area. The technology can be used for gang investigations, resource management, asset management and community impact assessment. However, the use of crime mapping raises new concerns about the need for privacy and confidentiality guidelines.
The Orange County (Calif.) Gang Incident Tracking System (GITS) is another type of gang information system that supports not only intelligence and gang crime reporting functions, but also the evaluation of community interventions. Twenty-two independent cities and the Orange County Sheriff Coroner's Department report to a centralized database. Geographical information software is used to analyze the GITS data, generating geomaps of gang crimes and the residency of gang members.
It’s also become customary for crime analysts to be involved in the construction, implementation and interpretation of citizen surveys in this regard, with such surveys measuring community perceptions or nuisance activity (non-criminal or misdemeanor acts which are perceived as threatening to citizens) and fear of crime (media-driven and irrational, often involving vicarious victimization). When these survey data are mapped geographically and overlaid with "hot spot" analysis (the traditional police pin mapping of where gang-related calls for service occur) police departments have a tool for tracking shifts in gang crime activity from location to location. This type of analysis is often called “location analysis”
Association analysis uses data received through surveillance or informants and creates a link chart showing the links between the known and suspected members of the gang. The chart often looks like a family tree, and can list people, places, or entities. It can also illustrate seized evidence and help establish a time line of events to be used in a gang prosecution case.
If you use telephone wiretap information, you can produce a frequency distribution chart showing the time of the call (start/end), to whom and the total length of time. The result is a rather graphic portrayal of who and where the suspect calls most of the time. The analyst can also add the known time of certain events into the chart. A gambling operation would show, for example, a flurry of calls right before a sporting event or a gangsters phone may experience a rise in activity after one of the gangs members was killed or killed someone as conversation about many crimes is immediate.
Using wire information, testimony of informants or other wires, a gang crime analyst can produce a content analysis chart, highlighting incriminating statements made by the members of the gang that precede an act of violence against somebody. This is especially important if the members of a gang that speak in code words, like "ride for the set" or “homie is on the green light list”. Discourse analysis, as well as other more advanced forms of linguistic analysis, allows deciphering tone, meter and inflection in the voice to read the messages behind the words spoken.
Starting in 1929, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) have been the most widely used source of criminal statistics of crimes known to police. Law enforcement practices, or the way the police record data, varies between jurisdictions and from county to county. Methodological problems exist with UCR data, such as filing a police report is voluntary, and reports may vary in accuracy and completeness based upon the police jurisdiction. The UCR collects raw numbers to determine the frequency of crime and is an ideal method of evaluating the percentage of crime between years. The UCR breaks crime down into two categories: Part One and Part Two.
Crimes are derived from crime reports prepared by the police that are submitted to the FBI. Crimes include reported incidents of murder, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, burglary, rape, motor vehicle theft and grand theft. Regardless of the FBI index, it’s clear that Part One crimes include the more serious offenses and are the primary concern of the police.
Crimes are based upon actual arrests made for the specified offenses. Crimes include simple assault, curfew offenses, loitering, embezzlement, vandalism, vagrancy, weapons offenses and violations of court orders like gang injunctions. A proportion of crime incidents are likely to be unreported due to apathy, tolerance of the behavior, fear of repercussions of reporting or lack of knowledge of where to report. That’s especially true in areas that have a high concentration of gang activity.
Criticisms of UCRs led the FBI to introduce a new crime reporting system called the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which began implementation in 1989 and has been slowly phased in. The purpose of NIBRS is to enhance the quantity, quality and timeliness of crime data. It’s also improves the methodology used for compiling, analyzing, auditing and publishing collected crime information. NIBRS does away with the original Part One and Part Two designations, and have instead organized offenses into more inclusive “Group A” and “Group B” offenses.
Group A Offenses
Arson, assault offenses, bribery, burglary, counterfeiting, forgery, vandalism, drug and narcotic offenses, embezzlement, extortion, fraud, gambling, homicide, kidnapping, larceny and theft, motor vehicle theft, pornography, prostitution offenses, robbery, forcible sex offenses, non-violent sex offenses, possession of stolen property and weapon-related law offenses.
Group B Offenses
Writing bad checks, curfew violations, loitering and vagrancy crimes, disorderly conduct in public, driving under the influence, public drunkenness, non-violent family-related offenses, liquor law violations, voyeurism, runaway offenses, criminal trespassing and all other offenses not listed.