Cutting-edge mapping technology used to take on violent gangs in the US could assist South Australian crime fighters in the state’s bikie war, according to a visiting international law enforcement expert.
28-year police veteran and former criminal profiler Mike King – now a law enforcement expert with global Geographic Information System (GIS) giant Esri – has been invited to Australia to advise SA police and investigators on how the technology can be used locally to fight violent crime.
Drawing on US examples, where modern mapping technology has helped diminish gang crime in a number of cities, Mr King will discuss how to tackle the state’s recent spate of outlaw bikie-related crime and fraud.
“Gang activity and associated data, when properly recorded and managed through GIS technology, allows law enforcement agencies to better understand gang movement, motivation and methodology," said Mr King.
“Investigators can gain incredibly powerful insights into a situation when they map behavioral and physical factors with other data sources, such as gang boundaries or turfs, demographics and crime statistics.
“This provides police commanders with authoritative, actionable intelligence that can be used to accurately track the criminal activities and movements of gang members.
“For example, in Ogden, Utah, GIS technology was part of a police response that led to new laws making gang member associations illegal.
“After several months of monitoring the situation with the technology and increasing police effort, crime and gang related incidents were reduced substantially.
“There is no reason why the same approach would not work to address the bikie wars and gang problems here in South Australia.”
During an address to more than 200 of the region’s leading spatial experts, he said Australian law enforcement agencies might consider adopting some of the techniques and models used by their counterparts in the US including the use of GIS technology to construct a national criminal database.
“Too often different policing agencies have distinct jurisdictions in which they collect and manage crime-related data,” Mr King said.
“Offenders certainly aren’t concerned with state boundaries however – and law enforcement agencies’ ability to know of similar crimes in adjacent states or disciplines is limited if they can’t easily draw on intelligence and data beyond these borders.
“In the US –where we have more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, we face similar challenges and have found that the more we share intelligence, the more successful we are in combating criminal activity.
“Relevant crime-related information can be instantly accessed via a digital map, where it can be analysed and translated into actionable intelligence by various agencies.
“This way it doesn’t matter if a suspect crosses borders; as all police, nation-wide, have access to the same, up-do-date picture of a criminal’s activities and history – so they can quickly determine how best to respond.
“Because there are fewer jurisdictional units here in Australia, the task of using GIS technology to bring the country’s data together in a more usable way is certainly within reach.”