Discussion questions – criminal investigations
Q1-`If you were an analyst in a police department, what type of chart do you think you would develop if you were working with an investigative team on a drive-by shooting involving the `7th Street Boys` gang?`
The nature of crime undertaken by the 7th Street Boys gang needs to be tracked in three forms, the time, the location and the target. The factors determine charting depend on the type of crime, the frequency of occurrence and establishment of a rhythm. Temporal activities are easy to plot on a graph or a chart when the frequency of occurrence is large. (60 Steps: 2006). However when the frequency of events is limited there is a need to carry out charting in a different manner. The 7th Street Boys Gang has indulged in a drive by shooting incident. The temporal analysis will be useful in case there are a number of such incidents occurring in the neighborhood and there are occurring with greater frequency. This will enable establishment of average hourly rhythm, percentage of week’s events and daily and hourly rhythm. This will facilitate establishing the day and time at which drive-by shooting occurs more frequently and thereby take preventive action accordingly.
If the Gang is the only one operating in the area, the frequency of such incidents may not be that large and hence temporal analysis will not be very effective. However it would still be fruitful to carry out the same by taking on a longer span of period. This will enable us to identify the percent of events per week as well as establish a daily and hourly rhythm of the event. There by establishing the likely days and time the Gang indulges in the drive-by shooting activity. The technique of time event chartering can also be used for this purpose. Rachel Boba has been recommending day and hour charting together to get a clearer picture.
Once the day and time is establish the likely areas of crime need to be identified, for this purpose automated GIS systems such as the Arc View Geographic Information System (GIS) software which can analyze the crime correlating it with the geographic location of its committal can be carried out. Use of the GIS system enables pin pointing of the scene of crime and establishes the vulnerabilities of certain locations vis a vis the safe areas. Having co related the scene and/or scenes of crime by the Gang and plotting it on the map, the areas favored by the group will be highlighted. A GIS map facilitates clarity in identification of location and translating it as an input to be provided to the police teams operating in respective beats. A specific beat could then be warned of a possible strike. This will enable undertaking preventive actions as well as apprehension of the members thereby avoiding any further incidents.
The third chart used will be the target analysis chart, wherein the types of targets which have been subjected to attacks by the gang will be identified and when plotted on the map as well as the time having been determined through time event chartering or temporal analysis techniques, measures to prevent recurrence and apprehending the members can be undertaken.
Q2- Please discuss examples of public reports that law enforcement disseminates – in your opinion, do you think that this is a good idea? Why or why not? `
Public Reports – Dissemination by law enforcement Agencies
Law enforcement agencies disseminate a large number of public reports. A typical example is denoted by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI. Under this category yearly reports are generated to include total offenses with territorial jurisdiction, Group A offenses, offenses categorized based on type and value of property, arrests, and juvenile arrests and so on. In addition incident characteristics by county, victim by month and so on are also reported under these regulations. (UCR: 2006). Local police authorities also publish a large number of reports such as Burglary Activity Report, Cancellation of Armed Robbery Series with Forecast and geographical profile, commercial burglaries Charts and Graphs, Crime Analysis Report, Crime Analysis Unit Survey and so on. (Sample Crime Analysis Products: 2006). Similar reports are regularly published by almost all other areas of the United States.
Publication of such reports periodically is an essential aspect of policing; it provides the police with very accurate data of the type of crimes being committed, their frequency of occurrence, the likely areas in which they are committed and the normal targets. Once this is identified it is easier to take preventive measures as well as attempt to apprehend the culprits. The focus on the types of crime also enables identification of vulnerable sections of society such as women and children and provides them with greater security and safety. The reports also acts as a demonstration of efficient policing. These reports are thus a powerful motivating factor for the police force. Year on year and month on month data when compared will establish the possible period when crime is more prevalent and the lean months. This will also denote the improvement or other wise that has been brought about by the police leadership during the period. The availability of such data to the public will facilitate people to take greater precautions during particular periods and time spans. Social scientists are facilitated through such reports as it provides them emerging trends in crime in society and enable undertaking remedial measures at the socio-political and economic level. This in turn will support the measures being taken by the police force to check crime.
The availability of such data and its wide publicity is also considered a double edged weapon. The data unless analyzed by experts may lead to wrong conclusions being drawn up. This will be contrary to the purpose for which these were designed. Another trend is the lack of reporting of incidents or under reporting to avoid coming into the lime light for all the wrong reasons. Fudging causes heavy damage to the credibility of the police system and the faith of the public is shaken if such under reporting takes place as a routine. Since human nature is chauvinistic by nature, there is increased tendency for people to avoid being seen in a bad light; hence the purpose for which such reports are drawn up is defeated. Notwithstanding the above these reports are valuable and thus need to be continued.
3- Please discuss the value of conversations captured by electronic surveillance would be to a crime analyst investigating an organized crime ring?
Value of Electronic Surveillance against Organized Crime Ring
Electronic surveillance is of immense value to break an organized crime ring. There are numerous examples of success by using such techniques. Thus a detective in Cambridge shire is reported to have downloaded information of thousands of calls being made and used it to break a gang of computer thieves. This also led to the recovery of stolen equipment worth £500,000. (Campbell: 1997). There is a need to however ensure that this is done only on the authority of a judicial warrant or a senior enough police officer as the case may be based on the prevalent laws in various provinces and states. The pervasiveness of the voice recordings can be used by extrapolating the conversations on a computer and then deriving information from these to include various facets such as names of people based on their accent, associates, habitual callers to and from whom calls are made and received which will facilitate the police team in collecting the complete electronic profile of the gang. (Campbell: 1997). In this case by having voice recognition software installed on the computer, the identities of the persons can be assessed and the entire trail leading to the king pin traced out. Thus by increased surveillance, the complete identity of the ring will be established and its reach noted. Since such rings operate on a single contact basis, thus one operative may know just one more contact in the organization and will be oblivious of others in the chain, a very detailed analysis of the calls will have to be carried out to achieve fruitful results. By using multiple intercept centers which can be based globally, pin pointing of transmissions can also be carried out by the simple triangulation method. This will enable apprehending users while he is in the process of making a call to his criminal or other source
The problem will however come about if the lead provided by electronic surveillance is to be produced as evidence for prosecution of the criminal gang. The basic question will be the authority under which the surveillance has been carried out. In case it is extra judicial or quasi judicial, then the surveillance will be considered as unauthorized and the agency will be responsible for making amends for wrong interpretation and implementation of law. In case the permission has been obtained before interception, than prosecution will have a strong case to charge many of the criminal leaders. In the United States there are numerous provisions which prevent wire tapping and electronic surveillance. As early as in 1934, The Communications Act provided legislation to allow electronic wire tapping under limited circumstances. The US Congress also established electronic wiretapping as a frame work only in 1968 and that too, very stringent checks in implementation were ensured. This factor has also been highlighted in the Congress from time to time and it has directed that this should be a means of last resort. Thus the surveillance will have to be undertaken very diligently and by getting the approval of the concerned authorities.
1. 60 Steps. 2006. http://popcenter.org/learning/60steps/index.cfm?stepNum=25. (25 June 2006).
2. UCR. 2006. Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI. www.fbi.gov.( 25 June 2006.
3. Sample Crime Analysis Products : 2006 http://www.state.ia.us/government/dps/asd/iowa1.htm. (25 June 2006).
4. Campbell, Duncan. 1997. Cops call the shotshttp://duncan.gn.apc.org/875112275-phone.html