Thursday, September 30, 2010
On the drive back home I got to thinking about the things I'd learned and about some things I want to explore further when I get back to my agency.
One thing I want to explore further is using the DDACTS methodology to determine targeted enforcement areas in my sleepy little burg. The DDACTS presentation I sat through was interesting and the methodology shows promise for providing more bang for the buck for crime and traffic problem enforcement. NHTSA and the Baltimore County Police folks did a good job with their presentation and you could easily tell they were enthusiastic about it.
Another thing I want to explore further is a different methodology for creating hotspot maps using fishnet grids. Right now, I generate hotspot maps using CrimeStat III's Nearest Neighbor Hierarchical Spatial Clustering tool (say that three times real fast). Dallas PD's folks did a good presentation on using fishnet grids in a GIS to create hotspot type maps that they use in their Targeted Action Area Grids program. I'm not dissatisfied with CrimeStat's way of doing it, but I think the fishnet grid method might give me a bit more control over my workflow.
If you are a crime analyst, whether your were at the conference or not, I hope that you will always be willing to learn and try new things at your agency. If you are a law enforcement administrator, are you willing to send your analyst out for training and then let your analyst try some new things?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Today, the conference had a luncheon with a keynote speech by Rana Sampson, who was a founding member of the Problem Oriented Policing Center. Rana has over 27 years of law enforcement experience, a law degree and more impressive accomplishments than you can shake a stick at. It's people like Rana at these conferences that are way smarter than I.
Prior to her speech, Rana received a Herman Goldstein award for lifetime contributions to the field of problem oriented policing. Rana is also leaving law enforcement after all these years and had some interesting remarks to make since she no longer has to worry about being politic in her remarks.
She stated that crime reduction through downgrading crime stats erases crime victims. She went on to show quite a number of recent examples of questionable crime stats reporting and news stories about the misrepresentation of crime numbers.
About this fudging of statistics she had this to say:
"This is a noble profession, one that relies on integrity. If you are caught lying as a police officer you can be fired, yet how do we have police departments lying about crime statistics?"In spite of this, it seems like every year we hear of more and more stories about department's getting caught lying about their crime statistics. This is a huge problem. It is vital that departments accurately count their crimes if they are to really be effective in improving the effectiveness of their agencies. These incidents also wreck the credibility of the department in the eyes of the public, the very public we are here to serve.
Rana went on to say:
"But if chiefs sit idly by while departments are doing reporting and crime classification shenanigans the pressure on them to reclassify will only grown because the gap will widen. The temptation to be less transparent will grow."No police agency likes to report bad news. No one likes to hear that their community's crime numbers are going the wrong way. Yet, instead of hiding these bad numbers, agencies need to use them to alert the public to the problem in their community.
Often times we bemoan the public's complacency when it comes to crime prevention. Yet, it may be that the truth is what is needed to rouse the public into becoming a partner with the police in dealing with crime problems in their community.
If you are in an agency that legitimately has good crime numbers to report, that's wonderful. But if your numbers aren't so good, don't spike it, but instead use it as a clarion call to get your community focused on improving the crime problem.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I have a few thoughts about what was said during the Opening Remarks. In his remarks Michael Scott from the Problem Oriented Policing Center said:
"More and more the future of policing involves crime analysis and crime analysts."Of course, you would expect this remark at a conference of crime analysts. But there is a distinct truth in this statement. Crime analysis as a profession has been around, or at least officially recognized as a discrete profession for about fifty years. But things are changing in law enforcement largely due to the new economic reality.
Bernard Melekian the director of the Community Oriented Policing (COP's) office stated that the COPs office is no longer able to be the federal ATM machine dispensing grant moneys in the way they did in the 1990's. The money available is a fraction of what it once was. He said:
"We can not act like POP (problem oriented policing) and crime analysts are something that we can no longer afford. Instead, POP and crime analysts are needed more than ever."The reason crime analysts are so important is that crime analysts help their agencies be more effective. There has been significant research into more effective law enforcement strategies and techniques, what IACA President Chris Bruce calls "the literature of crime analysis".
Crime analysts need to be students of these techniques, to learn the "literature of crime analysis". Chris Goes on to say:
"We have to make time for this if we want to have a long term impact. We can't wait for our agencies to catch up with the best practices in crime analysis. We need to be promoting this in our agencies."Coming to a conference like this is a good way to learn the "literature of crime analysis". What are you doing to learn and champion these practices at your agency?
Friday, September 24, 2010
When crime problems develop and an agency comes up with a strategy to tackle the problem, one thing that is often discussed is the possibility of displacement of the problem. Displacement can occur in several ways. In this step, we're going to look at these two ways:
- Geographic displacement - when the crime problem moves from one physical location to another
- Temporal displacement - when the crime problem moves to another time or day
The author's have this to say:
If geographical or temporal displacement occurs, it is most likely to shift crime to locations and times very similar to the locations and times affected by the prevention. Such shifts require less effort, learning, and risk for offenders than shifting to very different places and times. It is more likely that offenders will try to outwait the response, which explains Lawrence Sherman's finding that the effects of crackdowns decay. If offenders cannot outwait a response, it will be the most familiar locations and times that will have the greatest chance of receiving displaced crime.Displacement is one of the reasons that short term crackdowns aren't always that effective. The criminals just wait out the crackdown (temporal displacement). They know that the police often can't keep up the increased enforcement posture for too long. For the criminal, temporal displacement is easier than geographic displacement.
If you plan for displacement when you develop a solution to a crime problem, you can adjust your plan accordingly should displacement occur.
Next time we'll look at other types of displacement when we cover Step 49 - Examine Displacement To Other Targets, Tactics and Crime Types.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
A Harker Heights teenager is behind bars after police say he attempted to slit a man's throat because the man ordered him to clean up the house.I shudder to think what could have happened if he also asked the teen to take out the trash.
Ronald Bogan II, 19, is being held in Bell County Jail on $100,000 bond following his arraignment in front of Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin on Tuesday.
According to a police report, it took several of Bogan's siblings to wrestle the teenager off of the back of the man he was assaulting.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Next week starts the combined International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) and Problem Oriented Policing Center (POP) conference in Arlington, Texas. I am looking forward to attending the conference, learning a bunch of good stuff and meeting other folks who work in the field. In order to get you pumped about coming to the conference I have this list of 10 reasons to attend:
10. Because absolutely nothing "big" will happen in your jurisdiction while you are gone.
9. The coffee at the conference is better than that swill that passes for coffee in your office. When was the last time that coffee pot was washed anyway?
8. Can you say "Networking Reception" with adult beverages?
7. If you eat only ramen noodles and ketchup packets during your stay you can beat your department's meal allowance and finally buy that new fishing rod you've always wanted.
6. Because your hotel room's TV has more channels than your TV at home.
5. You can add to your collection of tiny shampoo bottles.
4. You won't have to make your bed in the morning.
3. The vendors' exhibits at the conference give away free pens so you won't have to worry about the cuts to your office supply budget next year.
2. Who needs to achieve Inbox zero when you can just ignore your Inbox for four days?
And the final reason to attend is:
1. Because IACA President Chris Bruce is a really nice guy.
I look forward to meeting some of you at the conference. I’ll be at the Networking Reception on Monday evening though I still haven’t figured out the classes I want to attend. Come join the conversation.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This one is a bit unusual. A Killeen man was busted for allegedly using a security guard badge to coerce prostitutes into providing free sex acts. The Killeen Daily Herald has this bit:
The prostitute told police she got into a van marked with a Scott & White emblem on Sept. 8.
After the two could not agree on a price, Cathey flashed a badge and told the woman that the only way she could avoid being arrested was to have sex with him for free. The prostitute relented in fear of being arrested.
The woman came to police after learning the same thing had happened to a number of other prostitutes she knew.
Most media portrayals of prostitution are complete bunk. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman this ain't. Prostitution is a sordid business with most hookers being drug addicted and frequently victimized by people who take advantage of their desperation.
Fortunately, recent initiatives to control sex trafficking and the attention being paid to Craigslist and other services for being a vehicle for prostitution may ultimately offer a bit of hope to the victims of this crime.
Monday, September 20, 2010
A couple of weeks ago we saw the online classified ad service Craigslist bow to pressure from several State’s Attorneys General and shut down their Erotic Services/Adult Services sections. Law enforcement has long complained that this section was largely a vehicle for illegal prostitution.
Previous complaints about this resulted in Craigslist taking the hugely ineffective steps of changing the name of the section and then charging for the ads instead of letting users post them for free. About all this did was allow Craigslist to make a lot of money from prostitution ads and did nearly nothing to stop them.
Because of this, many assumed that this latest step by Craigslist was just a stunt and they would go back to pimping as usual later. However, later Craiglist’s officials testified before Congress that the shuttering was permanent.
This story from Ars Technica has this bit that may be a more effective way to shut down these ads, victims suing online ad companies who are profiting off their sex trafficking.
In the complaint, however, M.A. accuses Village Voice of having knowledge that the explicit photos were 1) of a minor, and 2) for prostitution services. No evidence is outlined in the complaint that explicitly points to Village Voice having this knowledge, but M.A. says the company aided and abetted her pimp in facilitating prostitution and child pornography. She also argues that Village Voice should not be granted immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—a law that has historically protected websites from being held liable for the content posted by users.
I think the days of online services saying that they didn’t know that ads posted in their Erotic/Adult Services sections were prostitution are probably coming to an end. If these types of ads are just too risky to make money off of, I would imagine that they just won’t be worth the potential trouble for these folks to carry.
While this won’t stop pimps from victimizing their prostitutes, at least it might make it a little more difficult for them to ply their trade.
Friday, September 17, 2010
The indictments stem from charges related to assaults occurring in June, July and over the weekend of Aug. 21 and 22. Alleged victim's ages range from 20 to 30, records show. In every case, Fransaw either assaulted or attempted to assault a woman in an apartment complex laundry room while wielding a handgun.Cases like the alleged laundry room rapist are particularly troubling and a lot harder to solve them most sexual assault cases. Most sexual assault cases reported to the police occur between acquaintances. The victim can generally give you their attacker's name and other identifying information.
Though he was indicted on charges he assaulted six women, police detectives have linked him to nine sexual assaults, all occurring in the past three months. In each incident, a woman was cornered by an armed man in an apartment complex laundry room.
However, there generally isn't a connection between a serial rapist and their victim. This makes the job of catching them that much harder. The eagle eyed Killeen PD officer who spotted this guy's car did a great job.
The KDH story also has a huge list of other less notable felony indictments. Hit the link to read them.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
John Galligan the attorney representing accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan is trying to have Hasan’s upcoming Article 32 hearing closed to the public and the press. In a story over at the Dallas Morning News, Galligan is quoted as saying:
"I think it's necessary to ensure he can eventually get a fair trial at Fort Hood," retired Col. John Galligan, Hasan's lawyer, told News 8.
I find it interesting that Galligan has been quite vocal on his blog, posting about every little detail of the the court martial machinations for some months. In fact, he set the blog up only after he started representing Hasan.
In addition to the complaints about the prosecution of his client for the murders he allegedly committed, Galligan’s blog has even taken to complaining about drone attacks on terror suspects overseas. I guess the war on terror is going to be part of his defense strategy.
If all this coverage is so prejudicial to his client, should he be blogging about every little trial detail?. This kind of looks like he’s trying to have it both ways.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Killeen City Council unanimously approved a citywide ban of K-2, joining a growing list of Texas cities to outlaw the synthetic strain of marijuana.With all the things people will smoke, chew, sniff, eat or drink to get high it's hard for the Texas legislature to keep up with them all. I would expect them to catch up eventually. After all, they got around to making at least eleven oyster related crimes felonies.
There will also be a fine between $100 and $2,000 for any business caught selling it, effective immediately. Businesses will start getting notices Wednesday, September 15.
News Channel 25 first reported on the popularity of K-2 in Killeen in July. The city of Bryan recently banned K-2, as did several North Texas cities. As the Killeen Police Department responded to an increase in K-2 abuse cases, they asked the City Council to make Killeen the first city in Central Texas to ban it.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The 2009 statistics show that the estimated volumes of violent and property crimes declined 5.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, when compared with the 2008 estimates. The violent crime rate for the year was 429.4 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants (a 6.1 percent decrease from the 2008 rate), and the property crime rate was 3,036.1 per 100,000 persons (a 5.5 percent decrease from the 2008 figure).That was the good news, now for the not so good news. Some researchers are concerned that the the impact the economy has had on law enforcement budgets hasn't quite caught up to the crime numbers. A piece over at the Houston Chronicle has this interesting bit:
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said that while the falling crime rate is encouraging, the economy "could come back to haunt us" because of a nearly 10 percent drop per capita in police budgets in the past few years.One other interesting aspect of the FBI's report is that the usual Caution Against Ranking page has gotten bigger than I have ever seen it before. This page is a reaction to the near blood sport that occurs every year when the Crime In The United States report is released. Usually, once the report is released the media starts comparing one city to another with lurid headlines saying one city or other has the worst crime rate or is the most dangerous in America.
"There is a connection between the economy and crime rates, but it's not that when the economy is bad, people go out and commit crime," said Fox. "When the economy is bad, there are budget cuts. Less is spent on youth crime prevention and crime control on the street."
In fact a cottage industry has sprung up doing this with media companies taking the UCR numbers, ranking cities and then issuing a press release comparing a few cities. Then they offer to sell you their "complete report" with all cities ranked in "one handy reference book". Of course this simplistic approach to ranking cities by comparing crime and population causes police chief's across the country no end of heartburn. This is precisely why the FBI keeps trying to discourage the practice because it's just more complicated than that. It also really isn't fair to all the hard working cops who are trying to keep their communities safe.
Monday, September 13, 2010
In this chapter in our walk through the book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers we’re going to look at Step 47 – Know How To Use Controls. When we talk about controls here, we aren’t talking about knobs and buttons, we’re talking about using control groups.
A control group is a way to determine if your problem solving strategy is working. In other words, a scientist working on a new medicine may give the medicine to one group of lab rats and a placebo to the control group. If the level of sickness in control group is not markedly different than the group that got the medicine, then this experimental medicine may not be working.
In a similar way using controls can help you determine if your response to a problem is working, not working or something else is at work if your problem changes.
There are a number of things that can cause changes in your problem that isn’t related to your response. Some of them are:
- Cycles of activity
- Long term trends
- Unexpected events
For example, in the sleepy little burg where I work, we always see a slow down in crime during the winter months. This is a normal cycle of activity. If we implement a response to a crime problem right before the winter months, any decrease may have little to do with the effectiveness of our program. Using a control would help us to ensure that any change was due to our efforts and not just coincidence.
Next time we’ll cover Step 48 – Consider Geographical And Temporal Displacement.
Friday, September 10, 2010
In this first one from the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record. It seems that due to cuts in state funding the local police department has been forced to cut it's crime analyst.
When she left in mid-April, police chief Ramon Bethencourt fully intended to replace her. But Middletown received $46,501 less for the coming year in state law enforcement grants, making the crime analyst position a luxury Bethencourt simply couldn't afford.But in this story over at the Columbia Flier in Maryland comes to the opposite conclusion about the value of a crime analyst. In it, their, Chief William McMahon was quoted as saying:
"We're being asked to do more with less," he said.
Despite making cuts elsewhere in its spending plan, the department added a crime analyst to its force. Adding the analyst, McMahon said, is a money-saving move.It's interesting that these two Police Chiefs come to such differing conclusions about the value that a crime analyst adds to their agency. Not that I am biased or anything, but I tend to side with Chief McMahon on this. As I have touched on in other posts, the old model of reactive policing with random patrol patterns is just not an efficient way of policing.
"We try to work smart and we try to put our resources where they can solve problems, whether they're crime problems or community problems," McMahon said. "It helps our commanders to more specifically pinpoint officers that should be patrolling, and where we may need to run some enhanced enforcement details."
It's unfortunate that some Chiefs view a crime analyst as a luxury. I am sure that there are many others out there who would argue it's money well spent.
What are you doing to show your value to your agency? Are you making yourself too valuable to lose?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
This is weird; a soldier accused in the Copperas Cove area rape/murder of his five month old daughter was a registered sex offender but still managed to join the Army.
It gets even more problematic because even though he was required to register in Oregon where the offense was committed he had become “non-compliant”.
The story over at the Killeen Daily Herald has this interesting bit:
Batey said Oregon does not issue warrants for non-compliant sex offenders.
"It's up to law enforcement in the local jurisdiction to keep track of these offenders based on the information they can access through the registry," she said. "If they run just a general criminal history, it's all adult so the juvi wouldn't pop up. So if Texas didn't contact Oregon and say, 'is there a juvenile adjudication?' — which we would have said there was — then no one would know."
So, Oregon doesn’t issue warrant for non-compliant registered sex-offenders, yet his conviction won’t show up and his registration status may not show up either. Yet, it’s up to local law enforcement to somehow divine that he’s in their jurisdiction in order to take action on his non-compliance?
Something is seriously broken in this system.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The Killeen Daily Herald had a story this weekend about fatality traffic accident statistics for the Killeen area. According to the story the number of fatal traffic accidents declined in 2009. The story had this bit that I thought was interesting:
But for Killeen, the year over year trends are harder to read. Fatalities jump one year and fall the next. In the past six years, the total amount of crashes reported routinely seesaws, with large drops one year offset by large gains the next.
I wonder if part of the problem with this “hard to read trend” is that they are looking at too short a period of time trying to divine a trend. It really isn’t that unusual for accident or crime stats to vary, sometimes significantly, without any seemingly discernable trend if you are looking at too short a period of time.
It looks like they are using yearly accident data for this piece. Six years really isn’t long enough to identify a trend for this kind of data, that’s just six data points. I’d hate to buy stocks with such a limited amount of data points.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Some big news this weekend was that the online classified service Craigslist has shut down their Adult Services section that has been linked for some time to prostitution. Various law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and states Attorney’s General have been trying to get Craigslist to reign in this section for quite a while.
In fact, prior to it being labeled Adult Services it was labeled Erotic Services. That name change happened as part of a push by Craigslist to police themselves and avoid getting the hammer dropped on them by various agencies.
It seems that in spite of all the “free speech” posturing by founder Craig Newmark the pressure to drop this section became too great. CNET has this bit from their coverage of this story.
Recently, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark gave a troubling if spontaneous interview to CNN, in which he seemed unable to answer questions about whether the site was facilitating child prostitution. Then, instead of answering the specific charges, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster took to the company's blog to assail the CNN reporter's methods.
In dropping the section, Craigslist replaced the link where the Adult Services section used to be with a black bar that says Censored.
While in a way I understand the free speech stance by Newmark, you can’t escape the fact that prostitution was a huge part of the Adult Services section. Even in my sleepy little burg we have conducted quite a number of prostitution investigations that originated from Craigslist ads.
If Newmark really was concerned about freedom, maybe he should consider the “freedom” that many prostitutes have since most of them are either forced into prostitution by human traffickers or out of desperation due to their addictions.
On the lighter side, Conan O’Brien had a great post on his Twitter feed regarding this issue:
Craigslist has shut down their adult services section. Looks like the "used futon for sale" ads are about to get a lot more interesting.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I am loathe to even mention this as normally I couldn’t give a rat’s behind about celebrity arrests but this was too good to pass up. (That and I just started my long holiday weekend so a bit of levity is appropriate.)
Seems like one of Hollywood’s favorite errant heiress/socialite managed to get herself arrested for cocaine possession in Las Vegas after a Vegas motorcycle cop smelled marihuana coming from the car she was riding in. The marihuana smell led to a traffic stop and then a bag of cocaine was found in her purse.
Now, Paris dusted off the favorite excuse of dopers everywhere when she tried to claim that the purse and hence the dope wasn’t hers. According to this article at CNET, for her she failed to remember that she had posted a picture of her new purse a few months ago on Twitter. According to CNET:
You see, at 1.48 p.m. on July 15, Hilton availed herself of Twitter to inform her more than 2.5 million followers: "Love My New Chanel Purse I got Today.:)" She conveniently added a Twitpic of this remarkable, lovable, valuable piece.
Of course this brings up an interesting topic for those of us in law enforcement. Have you checked your arrestee’s social media pages for evidence relating to their crimes? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. can be a treasure trove of juicy tidbits and not just for pics of drunken fratboy hijinks. Just ask Paris.
We’re up to Step 46 – Conduct a process evaluation in our journey through the book, Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. In previous chapters we’ve covered identifying a problem, analyzing problems and finding solutions to the problems. Now we’re going to look at evaluating our solutions to see if they are having the desired effect.
In Step 45 we saw in the example that not every response is implemented correctly, and when that occurs we often reduce the effectiveness of our solutions to problems. The authors put it this way:
A response is a complex piece of machinery with a variety of components, any of which can go wrong (Step 45). A process evaluation examines which components were carried out successfully. The process evaluation checklist highlights the questions that you should ask.
There are four main reasons that a response can go haywire in the implementation:
- You may have an inadequate understanding of the problem.
- Components of the project have failed
- Offenders may react negatively to your response (Step 11).
- There are unexpected external changes that have an impact on the response.
If we determine through our process evaluation that we are implementing our solution correctly, we can now measure the impact our solution is or isn’t having on our problem. In the next few chapters we’ll cover impact evaluation starting with Step 47 – Know how to use controls.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
- Man wounded in Killeen shooting
- Woman arrested for Killeen robberies
- Temple Police investigate early morning rape
Amanda Stairrett over at The Killeen Daily Herald has a great piece on the court martial of a Fort Hood solider accused of a fatal stabbing at a party in Killeen.
About 20 people, mostly soldiers, attended the party, which included drinking and beer pong, Cox said. Most who were present late that night were highly intoxicated, she testified.
The story is a great read and goes into a lot more detail about the drunken melee that ended up taking another soldier’s life. Hit the link as the whole story is worth the read. Unfortunately, “alcohol was involved” in way too many crimes around here.
As a side note, here in our sleepy little burg, it’s not unusual for the military to take over the prosecution of crimes committed out in town that occur between members of the military.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Lincoln, Nebraska Police Chief Tom Casady has had a couple of posts this week about alternatives to random patrol as a crime fighting strategy. A notable quote in the first post is this:
Every time I hear the phrase routine patrol, I cringe. First, there should never be such a thing as routine in policing, and second, the thought of police officers in cars on routine patrol makes me think of another phrase: driving around aimlessly burning fossil fuel.
Yet, for years driving around aimlessly is what police officers did. They drove around “patrolling” waiting to be dispatched to a call.
Chief Casady has discussed problems his community has had along a hike and bike trail in their city. In this post, the Chief describes this scenario; while tooling around on his bike he saw one of his cops doing this:
Bob’s patrol, rather than being aimless, was targeted towards a specific place, time and problem.
As a crime analyst, it’s our job to make sure we communicate to our officers where the problem areas are so their patrol will be a lot less random and a lot more focused on problem areas.
I’ve found that if you can give your officers a little bit of direction about where to look and when, they’ll likely jump on the opportunity to try and catch the bad guys. It beats the heck out of driving around aimlessly.