Making Shawnee Police Nimble and Responsive

A suite of GIS-based solutions helps the police department in Shawnee, Kansas, gather, analyze, and share crime data to support its mission to keep the community safe.

With nearly 90 sworn officers, the department serves a city of just over 63,000. Shawnee is part of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, which covers several counties on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line.

“We began using GIS when we established a Crime Analysis Unit,” said Greg Collins, research and analysis manager for the Shawnee Police Department. “Back then, crime analysis was a relatively new concept in this area, but the chief at the time, Charles Clark saw the potential in using data to help keep our community safe. Chief Clark brought in crime analyst Susan Smith to get our unit off the ground.”

The Shawnee Police Department acquired a suite of solutions from Esri partner BAIR Analytics that eliminated paper- and text-file methods for managing crime data and automated data management. The ArcGIS-based platform consists of Automated Tactical Analysis of Crime (ATAC), ATAC Regional Analysis and Information Data Sharing (ATACRAIDS), and Regional Analysis and Information Data Sharing (RAIDSOnline). The solutions provide powerful crime pattern analysis; predictive analytics; crime mapping, reporting, and intelligence analysis; and a secure online dashboard that enables national crime data sharing.

Officers use ATACRAIDS to monitor their districts and special assignments such as providing enhanced school safety. “We use GIS capabilities for crime reports,” said Collins. “Without them, we could not provide the amount of data, on demand, in an intuitive format. When we have to react to a crime series, we can assemble and distribute data much faster to get the needed information to our officers. It makes us more nimble and responsive.”

The solutions automate processes that were previously done manually such as generating weekly command reports. Commanders use these reports to create strategic plans and tactical responses such as instituting a specialized task force to fight car theft or adding patrols to a neighborhood following a spike in burglaries.

ATAC, a desktop- or workstation-based analytics solution used for many of these projects, is updated daily. Commanders get reports showing crime variables and available assets and staff for response in a fast, efficient manner.

Weekly analysis, using location analytics, compares current year-to-date (YTD) data with YTD data for the previous five years. ATACRAIDS produces maps and quick statistics for weekly command staff meetings. The dashboard lets staff use more than 200 analytic features. Crime hot spot maps and custom predictive analytics are created with one click against any data on the map, even if it spans multiple jurisdictions. Using the dashboard, the department can download regional data for further analysis. More than 50,000 reports currently in the Crime Analysis Unit (CAU) database are accessible using ATAC and ATACRAIDS.

“The database is updated daily so that when a request comes in or analysis needs to be done, the data is there ready to go,” said Collins. “The visual query feature is outstanding for being able to quickly narrow down the data as needed. Then quick statistics are produced with one click.”

Officers can use simple GIS-based tools to view trends, patterns, and forecasts. The ATAC solution runs simple queries that yield immediate answers and eliminate information requests that would take hours. Because queries are map-based, a visual query can immediately filter the data down to the few items that meet the request’s criteria.

The platform helps with drive operations and patrol and traffic data. It is the main database for Data Driven Approaches for Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) analysis and uses several saved queries to gather the exact data. The geocoding feature allows data to be exported into Excel so that it can be used in ArcGIS. Specific maps are then created to show DDACTS areas and changes in the DDACTS hot spots. This data is used to determine DDACTS times and areas.

Supervisory staff use the analytics and mapping capabilities to determine areas of deployment for focused attention on a given shift. Data is readily available to map where crimes most frequently occur and when those crimes are occurring.

The Shawnee Police Department opens up data to the public using data-rich web maps that are easily understood but protect victim privacy. Data is also available to the public and media via simple web services. Using RAIDSOnline, the media can create its own maps with the data provided.

Today regional data sharing is recognized by law enforcement as a higher priority for both fighting crime as well as supporting national and homeland security. Because the Shawnee Police Department uses the BAIR solutions, anyone with a user name and password can view the data uploaded to the geospatial platform on a daily basis. Data changed in ATAC will be updated in ATACRAIDS, giving other agencies a current overview of what is occurring in nearby jurisdications.

For more information, contact Greg Collins, research and analysis manager for the Shawnee Police Department.