Baker uses education, experience in crime analytics at OC Sheriff’s Office

With a mix of experience and education, master’s degree alumnus Chad Baker is using the same approach to analytics while fighting crime in Orange County as he did just a year ago on the battlefields of Iraq.

Baker is a Sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office where he oversees the department’s analytical policing efforts, managing five full-time civilian analysts along with a group of interns.  He explored the topic in his CHDS master’s degree thesis, “Cyber Threat Mitigation: Fusion Centers as a Regional Strategy.”

“Having exposure through CHDS allows me to articulate these approaches and back them with identified processes and methodology so that I can articulate support for my argument as well as giving me the credibility to do it,” Baker said from his office in Santa Ana, California.

The data is culled from the 11,000 criminal events annually in the county, including 11 small cities it contracts with for police service. Data points include geo-spatial and time patterns along with ingress and egress of the vicinity of the incident. The aim is to provide patrol officers with real-time information to factor into decision making as well as to detectives and policy makers looking for trends. Analysts also provide tactical and operational support to investigations by combing through its selection of databases, he added.

In the mobile information aide, cell phone data has become valuable evidence for a variety of offenses.

“Cell phone data really comes into play when we’re investigating murders,” Baker noted. “It lets us know who was in the vicinity of a murder.  We can take all of those phone numbers that hit a tower at given time and sift through data to look at ones we are interested in.”

One exemplary success story occurred in mid-May. A spate of residential burglaries in the city of Yorma Linda occurred over a two weeks. Baker and his team were able to identify a geographic concentration and time-pattern of the break-ins.

“We were able to conduct some uniformed enforcement activity in certain areas, which had the effect of diverting suspects to another are where we could use an unmarked presence for surveillance,” Baker said.

The result: police were waiting outside a residence as alleged burglars exited with a cache of jewels, cash and other valuables. His team’s success in another case was highlighted in a news media report in May.

Baker’s present goal is building on the momentum of the analytics team by developing a framework to technologically bridge patrol, investigation and corrections department data. He’s amid a proof of concept approach to plan, find funding and develop a system that would benefit all stakeholders of the intelligence products the team produces.

“We have all these disparate it systems I’m trying to bring together so we can provide situational awareness in real-time,” Baker said.

A career in the military and law enforcement was reinforced by his CHDS education, he said. The Technology for Homeland Security class has been a reference as he plans and implements solutions for his team while the Research and Writing course polished his communication skills in conveying ideas and concepts in briefings, plans and white papers to commanders.

“CHDS exposed me to best practices, processes and frameworks that helped me integrate the capabilities that I learned in the intelligence field to synthesize approaches and come up with solutions,” he said.