Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
The need to map data sends Dallas police senior Cpl. to school to learn GIS
February 26th, 2014 by Susan Smith
GIS has changed how law enforcement fights crime. Investigators now rely on actionable intelligence for mapping and analyzing crime patterns. Senior Cpl. DJ Beaty of the Dallas Police Department knew that none of his department’s officers had GIS degrees or training and decided he wanted to be the first to do so.
As a neighborhood police officer, Senior Cpl. Beaty got involved with various neighborhoods’ crime watch programs. Many citizens wanted to see crime statistics on a map so they could get an idea of patterns and trends of criminal activity in their geographic areas.
Senior Cpl. Beaty, police GIS and geospatial analyst for the Dallas Police Department, said, “It was obvious that we needed an ability to be able to map crime data and present maps to community members. My skills as a neighborhood police officer and my time in covert operations translated well to the field of GIS.”
Senior Cpl. Beaty added crime data analysis duties to his regular job responsibilities. He enjoyed the work, so when a GIS police analyst position came available within the department in 2012, he jumped at the opportunity.
He wanted more education in GIS and began to look for a program that would give him the geospatial education he needed to add to his on-the-job experience. He found American Sentinel University’s online program, which was a good fit for him.
American Sentinel’s GIS program suits police officers who are seeking advanced training because they already have a deep knowledge of their communities, which is spatial information. They can then use GIS skills to translate the complex crime data and find patterns.
“Experienced police officers have a very advanced level of knowledge about their communities and that information is inherently spatial in nature through the links between the various neighborhoods, public spaces, people and activities that are occurring throughout the year,” says Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University.
He says that a police officer’s expertise functions like mental GIS where the officer observes changing patterns in the community on a weekly and monthly basis. GIS skills enable a police officer to understand the complexity of existing crime data that translates into establishing and recognizing meaningful patterns on various scales.
Senior Cpl. Beaty is now his department’s new crime GIS analyst and is responsible for compiling geospatial data that comes into the Dallas Police Department, processing it with Esri software and creating maps that help the police department track and interpret criminal activity throughout the city.