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Criminal Justice Update

Officers, agency leaders appreciate data, want more, surveys show

7/18/2018
Law enforcement agencies are collecting valuable data, want greater access to data, and are prepared to share data, according to two recent surveys by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The Ohio Local Law Enforcement Agency Data Survey of 1,043 Ohio chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors was conducted Nov. 3-28 via email. It was meant to gage the willingness of leadership to participate in a system for sharing data and using data from other agencies within their regions and throughout the state. A total of 552 responses were received.

The second — the Ohio Law Enforcement Officer Data Needs Survey — conducted Nov. 29 through Dec. 18 through a link on the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) portal, was designed to establish how those in the criminal justice community are using data, and their need for data and data analysis tools. Of the 28,000 users of the electronic information network, 1,569 took part in the survey.

OHLEG Director Cynthia Peterman shared the results of the surveys with the OHLEG Advisory Committee. The group, which meets twice a year, serves as the sounding board for the OHLEG Steering Committee and the Attorney General as new policies, emerging trends, and opportunities develop.

Included on OHLEG is the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network (OLLEISN), which enables law enforcement agencies throughout Ohio to securely share criminal investigative information. It was launched in 2005 as part of a federally funded homeland security program. In its heyday, OLLEISN had more than 800 agencies contributing, today about 250 agencies take part.

“What the surveys are trying to find out,” Peterman said, “is, ‘If we created a new platform that allowed agencies to see data from other agencies, would they use data from other agencies in their daily work?’”

In the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Agency Data Survey, 91 percent of respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” prepared to share their own agency data and 93 percent were prepared to use data from other agencies. Only 17 percent of respondents, however, indicated they were prepared to dedicate funding to a statewide data system, and 74 percent of respondents were concerned about the effect on their budgets.

Agency leaders are also concerned about maintaining the ability to control the use of data. Of agency leader respondents, 72 percent said it was “important” or “very important” to control who sees their data.

On the topic of data analysis, almost 27 percent of responding agency leaders reported that they were not performing any of the data analysis identified on the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Agency Data Survey, however, they showed an interest in doing so. Forty-five percent of respondents said they would like to incorporate link analysis, and 40 percent said they would like to use crime mapping.

In the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Agency Data Survey, respondents who were not heavy data users were asked what could get them to use more data, and 42 percent indicated a need for training, 42 percent indicated a need for analytical tools, and 61 percent indicated a need for an increase in the availability of data.

An increase in training and data would likely lead to deeper analytics and a more data‚Äźdriven law enforcement community, Peterman said.