April 2, 2012 By Brian Heaton
Armed with nearly real-time crime analysis data, police officers are set to take predictive policing to a whole new level in Rialto, Calif.
The Rialto Police Department (RPD) will officially launch CrimeView Dashboard later this month, a crime trends software system from The Omega Group. The technology allows law enforcement officials to more easily identify crime patterns by tapping into detailed analytics. Police resources can then be deployed more efficiently to areas where higher levels of crime are expected.
Predictive policing technology has been used by a variety of law enforcement agencies for years. For example, the Memphis, Tenn., Police Department (MPD) has been using IBM predictive analytics software since 2006. Other cities running similar programs include Chicago and Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Rialto PD’s program incorporates arrest data, incident reports taken by officers and calls for service by citizens. Rialto’s version of CrimeView Dashboard has been tweaked so that officers can view crime data by beat, while others can view a daily recap of activity of date and shift. Users can also look generally at crime trends on a city level.
Jennifer Krutak, crime analyst supervisor with the Rialto Police Department, said the program, at a minimum, will be used during the department’s daily briefings at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. As officers assemble, a whiteboard will be used to display the analytics, which can then be used to plan out priorities for that particular shift. The system refreshes an hour before each briefing, so information will be presented in almost real time.
Every officer in the department also will be encouraged to use the technology on his or her own.
“Each employee has access to log in and do their own analysis,” Krutak said. “If I’m an officer in the field and working a robbery, I could log in and find out where robberies have been happening in the past two weeks and [whether] there is a correlation.”
Krutak added that the cost of the software was covered by a federal technology grant. Although she didn’t have specific numbers available, the RPD has a contract with The Omega Group for at least four years. The deal covers maintenance and upgrades during that time.
The software was rolled out on a trial basis in December to a variety of department personnel. Supervisors and officers from all divisions gave Krutak a wide variety of feedback, including their preferred ways to view displayed information and other helpful items that ultimately found their way into the final software package.
Some of the additions included narrowing the analysis results by how someone commits a certain crime and having pop-up flags if officers are looking at a repeat offender.
The software is connected to the Rialto Police Department’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records management system. The moment a person’s call to police is complete, the data from that conversation is parsed into customized tables and automatically hits the police department’s server running the CrimeView Dashboard. The new information will be live in the program the hour before the department’s next daily briefing.
Incident reports written by officers are handled in the same manner. The RPD operates on a paperless reporting system, so once an office transmits a report from the field and a sergeant approves it, that data sits on the server. When the information is pulled onto the department’s records management system, it also automatically is made available to CrimeView Dashboard which will pull the data during the system’s next refresh.
While having reliable, up-to-date data will obviously allow for more rigorous and predictive policing and strategy, Krutak said she put a lot of work into making the technology and the interface easy to use — for both experienced users and those officers who are more resistant to advanced computing processes.
“All you have to do is really show them the benefit on how it cuts down their workload time,” Krutak said. “As long as you make it very easy for them where they don’t have to do a whole lot on their own, I think they are more willing to use it.”
Krutak added that CrimeView Dashboard has two-part functionality: In one view, end-users click on a tab that brings up everything they want to see about their specific coverage area. But then there is an analysis mode meant for those officers who are more comfortable creating their own unique queries in the system. This way both tech-savvy users and beginners can get the same results.
Department supervisors were trained on the system last year. All officers from the traffic division, the gang unit, narcotics, detectives and patrol officers will receive similar training. Refresher courses will be offered throughout the remainder of 2012.
Looking ahead, Krutak said the department would like to see more of its intelligence data linked to the system. The software operates on data profiles. The RPD has arrest data, incident reports and citizen calls all connected to the CrimeView Dashboard, so the program can be expanded.
The Rialto Police Department’s gang intelligence data and parolee files are two of the early contenders to be added into the system when funding is available.
“Those are things we’d be looking at in the future because it is a huge benefit on how our intelligence records have a direct correlation with repeat offenders and the hot areas we want to target to keep crime down,” Krutak said.
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