How Beneficial are Crime Analysts?

A survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in 2008 concluded that “89% of responding agencies reported having staff whose primary or secondary duty was crime analysis.” Since then, there have been ongoing budget cuts, making it necessary to cut down on all non-essential positions. Without data on how beneficial crime analysts are, it will be hard to justify their positions.   

 In March, The VERA Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance published a cost-benefit analysis titled “Putting a Value on Crime Analysts: Considerations for Law Enforcement Executives.”  This paper is particularly innovative as the field has not previously provided many cost-benefit studies of crime analysts. It also offers guidance for police executives grappling with the how beneficial crime analysts are to their teams.

The first section of this paper gives an overview of the steps involved in cost-benefit analysis as well as the challenges to using this method.

The four main cost-benefit analysis steps used in this paper are:

  1. Assessing the Impacts of the Investment
  2. Measuring the Cost of the Investment
  3. Measuring the Benefits of the Investment
  4. Comparing the Costs and Benefits

The second section lays out questions about crime analysts that police executives need to answer in order to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. The next section of the paper discusses key considerations when performing a cost-benefit analysis of crime analysts. Finally, the paper ends with a summary of this cost-benefit analysis as well as steps that should be taken in the near future to learn more about the benefits of Crime Analysts.

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