Crime Analyst Helps Increase Safety In Long Beach Thanks To Measure A
Thanks to the passage of Measure A, the Long Beach Police Department's South Division has received funding for its own Crime Analyst, the articulate and passionate Amanda Economy. InsideLB caught up with Amanda, who was able to answer a few questions before beginning one of her typically busy days.
InsideLB: What lead you to a career as a Crime Analyst?
Amanda: I got my undergraduate degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice from the University of Colorado, so I really did focus on Criminology and Criminal Justice, in both theory and practice.
In my sophomore year of college, I met a Crime Analyst at a criminal justice panel. I said to myself, "Yes. I want to do what you're doing." Then, after my undergraduate degree I went and got a certification in Crime Analysis from Portland State University. At the time, I was serving at a non-profit that provided support to victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. It was there I made it my personal mission to become an expert in the field, and dedicating three years to developing tools for survivors of domestic violence and stalking who were at a particularly high-risk of being killed by their abusers. This work was challenging and rewarding, and further drove my desire to work for law enforcement – and to possibly find myself in a position to provide a more proactive response to criminality.
My husband and I moved out to California about five years ago and I realized I was finally going to get to do what I wanted to do—be a Crime Analyst.
InsideLB: How would you describe your job?
Amanda: As the Crime Analyst for South Division, I am dedicated solely to understanding and analyzing crime in the community, and specifically within the boundaries of South Division. Each of the police department divisions within the City has their own dedicated analyst. We each approach our work with laser focus on what is happening in our quadrant of the City. This has allowed me to make recommendations for potential problem locations, crime categories, vulnerabilities in the division, and also to spend a good amount of time providing information and intelligence to officers and detectives regarding suspects committing crimes in our Division.
InsideLB: Can you give an example?
Amanda: For example, while analyzing the incidents in South Division, I noticed a trend in parking garage burglaries. Having the ability to take an in-depth look at the crime incidents in South Division is what allowed me to make specific recommendations to Patrol with regards to an increase in parking garage burglaries that occurred earlier this year. Consistent tracking of the incidents, regular communication with the Sergeant assigned to the shifts when most of these incidents were occurring and relentless follow up by the patrol officers contributed to a dramatic reduction in parking garage burglaries for the month of August. This type of burglary is of concern to South Division, primarily because of the architectural design of the downtown area. Having a South Division team who is familiar with the crimes inherent to the environment was essential to impacting this crime.
InsideLB: So the analysis happens over the course of years?
Amanda: Generally speaking, if we're looking over the years we're looking at an average. It's tough to compare one month to one month: There may be an anomaly, exceptions, etcetera. But if I notice dramatic differences in crime trends over a five-year average, there may be something worth diving into a bit more.
InsideLB: How can the community help the LBPD during the investigation of, say, burglaries?
Amanda: When people track serial numbers, or even the make, model and color---you'll be surprised how many people can't even describe their own bike---it really helps officers, because without that information it's really hard to track stolen items down.
InsideLB: How would you describe the effect of Measure A on the Crime Analysis profession in Long Beach?
Amanda: The nice thing about being able to open the Crime Analyst position in the South Division is although it's sort of a compact division---the smallest geographically---it's probably the densest division in terms of people. Prior to Measure A, our office was housed in with the West Division Crime Analysis office. All of the divisions are very different; environmentally, and the crimes are different, the people that live in each division are different. It's really important as a Crime Analyst to hone in on those differences. The other nice thing about the passage of Measure A is that I got to join the ranks of other existing Crime Analysts who've dedicated their entire careers to working for the City and serving the community. I've learned more than I ever thought possible just because of that. I feel like I've gotten a head start: I'm new to the Police Department but I didn't feel new when I started because the West Division Crime Analyst was able to say, "Here's what's been going on, here are the problems in your area"....But now she gets to focus on West Division and really focus on those neighborhoods and those needs, and I can really look closely at the needs of the downtown area.
InsideLB: What changes have you seen now that there is a Crime Analyst focusing on crime in the downtown area?
Amanda: The downtown area is the driver of tourism. People come here to visit, it's beautiful, there's so much development down here, and it's going to be ever-changing. With one individual Crime Analyst being able to focus on that, we can really draw attention to the crime problems that are happening in this area and be strategic on how to address those concerns. We're already seeing differences in the crime in the South Division. We have had a decrease in the major crime categories. We also have "quality of life' crimes, transient-related, and because of Measure A we now have officers out working with those individuals. We've got an amazing team. I'm the only Crime Analyst in the South Division office, but there are four Patrol Bureau Crime Analysts, one for each division, who get to make a direct connection with the officers who are out there. You can't be a Crime Analyst without a constant connection with patrol officers. They're the experts.
InsideLB: What do you love about your job?
Amanda: I'll start out by giving sort of a cheesy answer, which is "I can't believe I get paid to do this job." It's so much fun. I think it's in my core to want to increase safety, for the community and for police officers. A component of my job is sharing intelligence that might lead to increasing an officer's safety. Those things really energize me.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been pulled to do work that contributes to increasing the safety of others. This actually started at a young age, with a desire to study severe weather patterns and "chase" tornadoes, as unlikely as that may sound! However, I soon decided that putting my passion towards public safety through crime prevention and reduction was a more appropriate path for me. With a family history that lends itself to such work (my mother is a survivor of violent crime, my grandfather was an FBI agent, and my father a captain in the army) it might be that my personal connection to serving in this capacity was built long ago.
I can see staying here a long time: I'm not going anywhere!