Community policing is comprised of more than the basic law enforcement functions that usually come to mind. It is not merely responding to police calls and investigating crimes. Community policing includes permanently solving neighborhood problems so that they are not a reoccurring concern to the society served by the police.
A dynamic tool being accepted and used more frequently as a component of community policing is crime analysis. More than just a means of compiling statistics, crime analysis is a proactive, problem-solving methodology.
However, the scarcity of specialized instruction and unavailable funding prohibits many agencies from developing crime analysis personnel as needed to make them an effective community policing tool. Officials in the Portland, OR area formulated a solution: it combined local law enforcement with the existing structure of a community college.
Crime analysis contributes many things to community policing. Proper analysis identifies problem areas. It facilitates the definition of these problems and identifies which elements of the community are affected. Crime analysis assists in crafting solutions to problems through research and evaluation of previously used techniques. Analysts are able to track the progress of community policing solutions and evaluate methods for success and future use.
Numerous specialty skills are needed in order to provide an agency with quality crime analysis. These include modus operandi analysis, statistical analysis, geographic information systems techniques (GIS), psychological profiling awareness, intelligence analysis, and basic research and statistical abilities. These skills are applicable to police agencies of all types and sizes.
Agencies typically fill crime analyst positions in variety of ways. Some utilize sworn members, while others employ civilian personnel as crime analysts. In either case, an analyst's capabilities usually need to be enhanced in one or more of the aforementioned skills. The problem for many agencies lies in the ability to properly develop crime analysis personnel in an economical, efficient, and effective manner.
There are some instructional opportunities currently available for crime analysts. These range from typical college or university coursework to workshop-style seminars. Private vendors such as The Alpha Group and Anacapa Sciences offer excellent training opportunities. However, many agencies find the expense prohibitive, and often are handicapped by having limited training funds for education not within established higher educational models-that is, for college credit.
The California State University system does administer the California Department of Justice's crime analysis certification program, but once again, not for college credit. The Chandler-Gilbert Community College of the greater Phoenix, AZ area offers similar training for college credit, but it is limited to the geographic area served by the college. Not only are all of these systems relatively expensive, they often required the added expense of travel related costs such as airfare and lodging. This combination often makes the training impractical.
Remembering that community policing is about problem solving, a new, innovative solution to crime analysis instruction was crafted by several law enforcement agencies in the Portland, OR metropolitan area.
Drawing on key elements of community policing: partnerships, community based solutions, and innovative approaches, these agencies sought to use existing college reimbursement and budgeted training funds to provide effective and economical crime analysis instruction. They accomplished this by partnering with a local community college and utilizing their existing Web-based educational model.
The first step was to seek the proper community partner. For this, the agencies turned to Clackamas Community College of Oregon City, OR. Already established as a regional provider of quality criminal justice education, the college has established on-going liaisons with many agencies, such as the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, the State of Oregon's Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, Oregon Emergency Management, various out-of-state emergency management agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and the United States Coast Guard. …