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Working in crime analysis, Brian Napolitano encountered GIS software programs on the job.
He first heard about some fellow law enforcement co-workers studying GIS five years ago. Then, a friend of Napolitano’s enrolled in ASU’s masters of GIS and Napolitano’s curiosity received that final push.
“I had always been fascinated by GIS and cartography, so I figured it couldn’t hurt,” Napolitano said of his decision to enroll in the MAS-GIS program.
GIS turned out to have an immediate practical application for him as well.
“Crime Analysis uses GIS to make predictions for the next event in a crime series, to identify crime “hot spots,” or even just as a visual representation of information we deliver to officers,” said Napolitano.
In the program and at work, Napolitano came to appreciate GIS as a great support tool and a good fit for the law enforcement community.
“For the most part, people in law enforcement are visual – they prefer to see, not hear, what we are telling them,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano took on a tough schedule to do the program, working full-time for the Gilbert Police Department and studying evenings in the GIS department. He said his schedule was packed and his sleep routine did suffer from studying nights and weekends. But, Napolitano said his aim was to open up new options, and he was able to weave his professional and academic worlds together in a way that benefitted both.
For his capstone project, he chose to work on officer allocation and crime prevention, sifting and analyzing data from his own crime analysis unit.
“This project has helped me focus a bit better and look at the bigger picture of what I want to accomplish. As an added bonus, I also feel more comfortable utilizing Microsoft Access to search for crime data in our record management system – a very powerful program I had never used prior to joining Gilbert’s ranks.”
Napolitano says these days he is happy to be working in law enforcement —with his masters in GIS giving him an extra edge, and great possibilities to branch out.