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When we hear the words “data science”, we think of various occupations, and law enforcement is generally not one of them, yet law enforcement uses data science every day. Data science is a field that revolves around using data to help us learn things and help us make appropriate changes. With the increased rate of terrorism and crime in general, law enforcement is always looking for ways to prevent crime, and they may have found help through data science.

Related resource: 30 Best Master’s in Data Science Online Degree Programs

What is Data Science?

Data science is a field that involves using information and data analytics to determine certain facts and to help solve problems. It actually involves several steps.

• Determine what the problem is or what question needs to be answered.

• Determine what data needs to be used to answer the question.

• Review the data and look for patterns or anomalies.

• Decide what tools or resources will be used to sift through the data.

• Analyze what the data means and if it answers the question.

• Communicate to others what the data indicates.

A data scientist will determine what the problem is, what questions need answering and where to find the important data to answer the question.

How Law Enforcement Uses Data Science

Law enforcement uses data science to help them not just solve crimes but to prevent them. Although data science appears to be a fairly new field, it’s actually been used in law enforcement for many years. In 1990, there was a rash of violent crimes occurring on the New York subway. A Transit cop put up a map of the subway system along with pins indicating where on the subway the crimes were being committed as well as what time of day. After processing and analyzing the information (data), he was able to communicate with other policemen where and when they should have more officers patrolling. A decrease in crimes on the subway was the result. Law enforcement continues to use data science to not only prevent crimes but solve them as well.

How to Become a Data Scientist

One of the main reasons there is such a shortage of employees who want to work with big data is because it’s a field that requires both training and skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that just being skillful at data science or data analytics is not enough. The candidate must also have training in the field in which he wants to work. In the case of law enforcement using data science, it’s not enough to just be skillful at data science.

The individual must also have sufficient training in law enforcement in order to effectively use data science as part of law enforcement. Becoming a data scientist typically requires a bachelor’s degree, although, the BLS reports that many data experts have master’s degrees as well. In addition to having a knowledge of computer science and computer programming, students should complete courses in statistics, physic, and mathematics.

The most important requirement is that the student has a qualifying undergraduate degree. An example of an academic program might be a master’s degree in law enforcement/intelligent analytics. Another example would be an individual with an undergraduate degree in law enforcement or criminal justice pursuing a master’s degree in data science.

Although we may not realize this, data science is an important part of our world and something we all use every day without even realizing it. With our world becoming more digital, data science will continue to be an important part of law enforcement and may eventually eliminate more and more crimes.


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