In order to effectively advance community policing, adept law enforcement agencies recognize that analysis is a key ingredient to success. Law enforcement personnel examine many aspects of the crime being targeted: locations, demographics, social problems, trends over time, crime report statistics, policing patterns. Crime analysts evaluate data with the aim of developing information and communicating it to help police understand, prevent and solve crime.
Law enforcement generally uses three distinct types or levels of crime analysis: tactical, strategic and problem analysis.
Other types of analysis include administrative crime analysis and police operations analysis.
Crime analysts can become a driving force behind developing a deeper understanding of problems and possible solutions to them. Crime analysis is a key component of community policing. Recent studies have recognized that crime analysts spend a great deal of time responding to tactical analysis inquiries. While it is important to report crime trend data on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, the true essence of community policing is to focus on the underlying problems that affect a community.
There is an essential difference between crime analysis and crime mapping. Crime mapping is the use of software programs to plot data on a map. Crime analysis is the synthesis of all information related to a crime problem or trend. This information can include maps, histograms, qualitative data from police reports, calls for service data, interviews, and any other piece of relevant information. The crime analyst gathers all the data and studies it to gain a better understanding of the problem and possible solutions.