The Current and Potential Role of Crime Analysts in Evaluations of Police Interventions: Results From a Survey of the International Association of Crime Analysts

Published date01 December 2017
Date01 December 2017
Subject MatterArticles
The Current and
Potential Role of Crime
Analysts in Evaluations
of Police Interventions:
Results From a Survey
of the International
Association of
Crime Analysts
Eric L. Piza
and Shun Q. Feng
Crime analysts play a pivotal role in evidence-based policing by readily diagnosing the
nature of crime and disorder problems. Such analysis products are key in the design
of evidence-based strategies. The role of analysts in the subsequent process of
evidence-based policing, the evaluation of programs to determine what works,is
less known. The current study seeks to fill this gap in the literature through a
survey of the International Association of Crime Analyst Membership. Findings sug-
gest that program evaluation lies on the periphery of the crime analysis profession.
Across all measures incorporated in this study, program evaluation was emphasized
less than all other crime analysis functions. Findings of logistic regression models
further suggest that, for the most part, no specific factors are associated with
increased levels of program evaluation experience. We conclude with a discussion
of how crime analysts can become more involved in evaluations of police programs
and strategies.
program evaluation, crime analysis, evidence-based policing, survey research
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, NY, USA
Corresponding Author:
Eric L. Piza, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, Haaren Hall Room 636.15,
New York City, NY 10019, USA.
Police Quarterly
2017, Vol. 20(4) 339–366
!The Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/1098611117697056
The emergence of crime analysis can be considered a driving force in the modern
evolution of policing (Santos, 2014). Despite their direct involvement in the
design and implementation of contemporary policing strategies, crime analysts
have not been readily incorporated in the evidence-based policing movement.
Program evaluation, the primary vehicle for evidence generation, has been left to
academic scholars, with researcher–practitioner partnerships commonly focus-
ing on the evaluation of police practices. Consequently, crime analysis units
typically do not engage in high-level scientif‌ic endeavors that can directly
speak to the ef‌fectiveness of police practices (Weisburd & Neyroud, 2011).
Given that ef‌fective crime analysis is expected to lead to crime reduction
(Santos, 2014), crime analysts arguably should play a central role in determining
whether a signif‌icant crime reduction has occurred.
The current study explores the role of crime analysts in program evaluation
via a survey of members of the International Association of Crime Analysts
(IACA), the preeminent professional organization of the crime analysis commu-
nity. The analysis empirically measures analyst training, task frequency, conf‌i-
dence, and opinions related to program evaluation, as compared with
predominate crime analysis functions (e.g., intelligence analysis, criminal inves-
tigative analysis, tactical analysis, strategic analysis, and administrative
analysis). Analyst responses were compared across these job functions via one-
way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Kruskal–Wallis tests. The analysis ends
with a series of logistic regression models meant to identify analyst and agency
factors signif‌icantly related to levels of program evaluation activity. In consid-
eration of the study f‌indings, we conclude with an argument that crime analysts
should occupy a more central role in program evaluation, outlining several
recommendations that may assist in achieving this goal.
Review of Relevant Literature
Evidence-Based Policing
Over recent decades, policing has seen increased calls for the use of scientif‌ic
evidence in the formation of public policy. Evidence-based policing advocates
for the use of scientif‌ic evidence in the adoption of police strategies, with police
practices based on what works as identif‌ied by rigorous program evaluation
(Sherman & Eck, 2002; Sherman et al., 1997). This movement has been wel-
comed by both criminologists and practitioners and has increased the use of
science to inform policy and practice (Lum, Koper, & Telep, 2011; Sherman
& Eck, 2002; Welsh, 2006).
The evidence base for what works has predominately been generated by aca-
demics outside of police agencies. For example, the evidence-based policing
matrix (Lum et al., 2011), created for the purpose of developing principles on
340 Police Quarterly 20(4)

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT