In an effort to boost analytical capacity and ramp up skills sets to tackle future crimes, issues and problems, it’s important to consider what it is exactly that makes an analyst effective. Research published in the Policing and Society Journal indicates that an effective crime analyst needs to be able to produce and disseminate an analytical product, have a can do attitude and a desire to be in intelligence. While the study itself was limited to research on the effectiveness of police analysts the findings have implications beyond police departments.
“For an analyst to be viewed as effective they need to have skills in developing a product as well as disseminating their results. The most critically important variable in disseminating the product was the ability to communicate with the recipient of the product both in general terms and through briefings and a written product. Many of the findings in this study designate the analyst as the decision-makers’ associate and focus on the analyst as a problem-solver providing inferences and recommendations which are justified alternatives for action. Much of the focus is on the analyst as a critical, lateral and innovative thinker rather than someone with the skills to drive computer hardware and software which is a shift from previous conceptualizations of the role and what constitutes effectiveness. In this study computer and technical skills were barely mentioned and the importance of thinking skills and life experience were highly sought after in determining effectiveness.
Although data collection and collation are described as part of the intelligence cycle they were not considered to be an indicator of analyst effectiveness; however, the way an analyst approaches their role in intelligence and their attitude to their position is vital. Most desirable are analysts who understand how intelligence fits into their organization both structurally and functionally and are effective because they are independent, motivated and are able to initiate and complete work with little direction” (p. 217).