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Focus Areas

Data-Driven Applications

Unlocking the value of data to improve policing practices

Consistent, timely, and reliable data are core to improving policing practices. While most law enforcement agencies collect crime statistics and other data, the analysis of those data, along with actionable insights, is often missing.

The RTI Center for Policing Research and Investigative Science is a leader in working with federal and state partners to build and enhance crucial national reporting programs, including systems focused on incident-based crime reporting and drugs seized by law enforcement.

We develop tools to help agencies make informed decisions about operational and strategic needs. Our experts in police operations, data science, geographic information systems, and data visualization inform these systems and maximize their effectiveness. One of these tools presents data on 911 calls for service in a visual dashboard that allows agencies to compare response times, community demand, and other factors impacting resources. We also developed WOMBAT, an open-source tool that supports both data entry and dissemination of prioritized warrant information to officers in the field via a custom software application that complements the North Carolina Statewide Warrant Repository (NCAWARE) system.

To support the need for high-quality and impactful nationwide data, we work with federal agency partners to conduct nationally representative survey work on the structure and operations of state and local agencies. This includes the 2016 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey, 2018 Census of Medical Examiner and Coroner Offices, and 2019 Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories. These efforts emphasize issues relevant to the practice of policing, medicolegal, and forensic fields.

Project Highlight

National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X)

NCS-X is a program designed to support the nationwide transition to incident-based reporting for crimes reported to law enforcement. NCS-X leverages the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) by recruiting a scientifically selected sample of law enforcement agencies, including all of the largest departments, to accelerate the national transition to NIBRS.

Project Highlight

Census of Medical Examiner and Coroner Offices (CMEC)

CMEC focuses on medicolegal death investigations in the United States, providing a national picture of medical examiner and coroner offices, including personnel, expenditures, workload, capabilities and procedures, and resource needs. The goal of the project—which collects data from more than 2,000 medical examiner and coroner offices across the country—is to provide improved information on the capabilities of medical examiners and coroners, the types of data systems and record retention procedures used, and the resource needs of these offices.

Project Highlight

Census of Publicly Funded Forensic Crime Laboratories

This survey provides a comprehensive understanding of the approximately 500 publicly funded forensic crime laboratories in the United States. This includes, but is not limited to, administrative characteristics of crime laboratories (e.g., staffing, training, population served, resources, caseload); policies related to data, records, and evidence retention; levels and methods of interaction with law enforcement agencies covering shared jurisdictions; and changes in demands on crime laboratories and other emerging trends in the field.

Project Highlight

Calls for Service Data for Crisis Response

Law enforcement agencies in today’s information age can store vast amounts of data from many areas, including 911 calls, emergency vehicle analytics, and administrative sources. Often, agencies do not possess the capacity to process data, nor to use it toward efficient and effective decision making. RTI’s Calls for Service (CFS) Analytics is a web-based platform that allows public safety agencies to easily digest complex data in a visual interface, which helps to inform a data-driven response. CFS data can help agencies strategically plan for the deployment of resources, identify high-use areas, and measure agency performance across a broad spectrum.

Project Highlight

WOMBAT

As part of a research effort funded by the National Institute of Justice, RTI partnered with the Greensboro Police Department in North Carolina to pilot the use of an innovative web-based tool, WOMBAT, and conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate its impact on officer behavior. The warrant prioritization project developed predictive models to help law enforcement officers decide which warrants should be considered a priority for service. WOMBAT is an open-source tool that supports officer decision-making and facilitates the dissemination of prioritized warrant information throughout a law enforcement agency. WOMBAT builds on the statewide NCAWARE system.