NYC Hiring Civilian Crime Analysts for Precincts

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The New York Police Department in some respects remains a collection of bureaucratic fiefs: 77 police precincts, their borders dating back decades, run by commanders who answer for crime within their district lines. At a recent CompStat meeting, when Brooklyn commanders showed top police officials a series of commercial burglary sprees that never crossed precinct boundary lines, the department’s chief of crime control strategies, Dermot Shea, was skeptical. “They’re not looking at the other precincts, because it’s not their concern,” he said later, reports the New York Times. To seed station houses with the computerized analytical skills that are increasingly prevalent at police headquarters and to force precincts to think creatively about crime data, the police department is hiring 100 civilian crime analysts for commands across the city.

The goal is to wrest out of the analog era a job that has long been weighted down by rote data entry. The civilians, many with a combination of law enforcement and math and statistics backgrounds, will be expected to find crime patterns before they grow too large and to make the department’s vast amounts of crime data easier to decipher. They will report directly to Shea’s office, along with the uniformed officer and sergeant on the crime analysis team, partly insulating them from local pressures crime teams worked under when they answered to the precinct’s commander. “You’re talking about leveraging existing data and making it deliverable to the end user, stopping patterns at 20 hits before they become 40 hits, analyzing subpoena data en masse,” Shea said.

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