JPD Criminal Analysis Division benefits all city departments

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- A special branch of the Jonesboro Police Department can actually predict future crime trends and fight crime on your street. From the grants department to street planning, the criminal analysis division is a valuable tool. But what you might not know, the entire division is run by one full time employee.

"I believe statistics is just a different language," said Criminal Analysis Specialist Basia Combs. It's language Combs speaks fluently. "Sometimes when I tell people I do predictive analysis, people look at me with suspicion. And I always say, no, I do not have a glass ball here. I use numbers," said Combs.

Numbers that are input into formulas, along with mapping technology and software, that Combs says, can be used to predict future crime trends.

She says it's proven to be helpful after a spike in burglaries in Jonesboro about a year ago.

"We started analyzing it. We showed where the next strike would be, what time, what day. And sure enough, the police officers caught the burglars," said Combs.

The Criminal Analysis Division was developed only about four years ago, through a U.S. Justice Department grant. It's gone from a department that didn't even have a desk or a computer, to a high tech division equipped with the latest crime analysis software. Technology that has the capability to see beyond crime on the map.

"What causes that crime? We're trying to figure out whether it's poverty, congestion of population. What are the factors the trigger criminal activity in our city?" said Combs.

Combs says not just anyone can do this job. "It is estimated that about the 3% of the population worldwide can do what we do," said Combs.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin says it's a skill that reaches much farther than the Jonesboro Police Department. "We use that data back and forth as a team and that's what makes it real good is the fact that we got something we can say this is specific. This is actually what's happening," said Perrin.

Perrin says it was a study by the crime analysis division that helped to provide the need for a traffic light at Matthews and Kitchen.

"It was showing almost a wreck there daily. And the reason is that Kitchen Street is off set from the other streets so you have to move over to get into there. Because of that, that's why we did the stop light," said Perrin. He also says Basia's research was applied to help back several grants that are in the works right now.

But Basia says the division's main goal is to protect the citizens. "No civilization will survive without the defense and our community will not survive without the defense. So that's a very important aspect of our work here," said Combs.

Basia says each week she provides all officers with a copy of the weekly crime trends, which help to determine how the department patrols the streets.

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