The Arizona Association of Crime Analysts (AACA) started as an informal group in 1996-1997. A small group of analysts would gather each month for lunch; to spend time networking and getting to know each other and their duties at their respective agencies. As the group started to grow, some formalized procedures were developed; and the first set of AACA by-laws was created in 1996. Shortly after, AACA became an official association under the umbrella of the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). In the beginning, the Arizona contingent was small, averaging 12-20 members from law enforcement agencies around the Valley.
This was truly a grass roots effort, with marketing and membership recruitment done strictly by word-of-mouth. Back in 1996, crime analysts did not even exist at many law enforcement agencies in the Valley. By 1999, AACA membership had grown to about 30 members and they decided to embark on a partnership with a local community college system to create a certification program for crime analysis. One of the first major accomplishments of the AACA was to create the 'Crime and Intelligence Analysis Certificate Program' - in partnership with Chandler-Gilbert Community College. The certification program specifically addressed the skills necessary for students interested in entry-level crime and intelligence analyst positions as well as sworn officers and professionals currently employed in a criminal justice position. Again, grass roots marketing paid off as the AACA did a great job of creating the curriculum and partnering with members of the Southwest Chapter of the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts to develop courses; identify content experts and solidify participants in the first class. Regular meetings were held with AACA members and advisors with the community college system to develop the course content, testing criteria and eligibility.
Today, more than 50 students have graduated with a Crime and Intelligence Analysis certification. The Chandler-Gilbert Community College is proud to have worked with the AACA and is pleased that analysts and researchers can now continue their education by attending college in Arizona, most while continuing to hold a full-time job.
At the same time, this dynamic educational program was being formed, the AACA members continued to have their regular monthly meetings, taking turns at respective law enforcement agencies. In each meeting, the analysts made sure to schedule presentations on current processes, office layouts, information requests and routine reports, in addition to tours of each department. Collaboration was important as the analysts used this regular networking to learn from each other. In addition to the Valley, AACA had meetings and training sessions in Tucson, Casa Grande, Yuma and Flagstaff.
In 2000, the crime analysts with the Tempe Police Department persuaded their information technology department to step forward and assist the AACA by creating their first interactive listserv. The listserv was the first time all AACA members could post bulletins and make requests of other agencies, electronically and instantly. The listserv helped connect everyone in AACA, members in the Valley as well as in other Arizona cities and counties.
The association was growing, now serving nearly 50 members. A committee, formed by then AACA President Jill Fowler, Gilbert Police Department, created the first AACA logo and it was soon gracing email signatures and association agendas.
The logo was updated again in 2005 through a contest sponsored by AACA; Ben Vermillion, Phoenix Police Department, submitted the winning design.
Soon after, Pete Garza, Mesa Police Department, took responsibility for creating the first ever AACA website. This was launched in 2001, via a free web hosting service. Together with the new listserv, the website provided a central location for meeting notices, job postings, crime bulletins and announcements. The Maricopa County Probation Department engaged in a partnership with AACA and provided a wealth of information on probationers and mapping that was posted on the new website.
With membership numbers continuing to increase, the AACA began pursuing a non-profit status in 2003. This was finally completed in 2005, when Ben Vermillion filed official articles of incorporation with the state of Arizona, on behalf of AACA, as a non-profit, non-tax exempt corporation.
By May 2004, association membership had grown to such a degree that organizing and finding meeting locations for the larger group was becoming difficult. So the association voted and the regular meeting schedule was changed to quarterly. After this change, new members continued to join and attendance at the quarterly meetings increased nearly 700% from their beginnings back in 1996. Today, the AACA boasts more than 100 paid members, with an average of 2 new applications arriving each month. Not only are members employed at traditional law enforcement agencies, but they include loss prevention officers from major retail establishments, prosecutor’s offices and two of the Indian reservations within Arizona.
The AACA's first quarterly meeting was held August 18, 2004, at the then brand new Peoria Police Department. The meeting was standing room only and included presentations from current members as well as one of our first vendor presentations. This meeting continues to set the bar for meetings going forward.
As 2005 came to a close, the AACA moved away from the web hosting system through the Tempe Police Department over to our very own server and launched the brand new, revised AACA website: http://www.aacaonline.org/. Today, the AACA website boasts its very own webmaster, Jennifer Jarosi, Phoenix Police Department, and the site continues to grow. The AACA website receives an average of 8 visitors per day and 247 visitors per month. Since the site opened, it has had more than 11,000 unique visitors. In addition to the United States, the website has registered visitors from as far away as Switzerland, Hong Kong, Cuba and the Russian Federation! Today the website includes an online store, success stories, job postings and a current events page!
In January 2006, the AACA began enforcing its membership dues collection with the hopes of generating enough revenue to host training courses and special events for its members. Using the listserv to send regular reminders, in addition to securing a post office box address has made the association "official" and in many ways has helped ease the collection of these payments.
In February 2006, the AACA voted in favor of adding a Member-At-Large position to the Board to assist with burgeoning membership issues and program planning. Judy Fernandez, Gilbert Police Department, was the first Member-At-Large recruited and was instrumental in representing the general membership on issues of interest or concern to the association.
In May 2006, AACA held a joint meeting with the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners, Southwest Chapter. Together the two associations welcomed over 120 attendees to a presentation by the Los Angeles Police Department on their COMPSTAT program. Not only was this joint meeting a success in terms of attendance, it gave everyone the opportunity to network outside their usual association. In addition, the newly collected dues helped to offset the cost of bringing these experts to town from Los Angeles.
Later in 2006, the AACA launched our inaugural training conference. “On the Scene and Behind the Screen: The Analyst’s Role” was held October 16 – 18, 2006 in Mesa. Over 120 attendees from 10 states and Canada helped make our first conference a huge success. More than 30 speakers presented on topics ranging from fundamental skills to advanced crime analysis techniques. Each presenter received excellent evaluations and attendees left the conference with more business cards, skills and tools for their crime analysis unit. The final conference attendance numbers surpassed any estimates the Conference Committee initially envisioned.
In 2007, a second training conference was held in Ahwatukee at the Grace Inn. The three-day conference hosted more than 30 training courses, four keynote speakers and nine outstanding computer sessions. More than 80 attendees were present to visit with six vendors. The AACA downsized our conference efforts in 2008 and hosted a 2-day Mini-Conference in Glendale. At a much reduced price, more than 60 analysts attended classes on MySpace, mapping and crime prevention. In 2009, the AACA is pleased to co-host the IACA / AACA Joint Training Conference here in Scottsdale. More than 300 attendees from around the world are expected to converge at the Doubletree Resort in October.
Another important event in 2008 and 2009 has been the transition of the AZTAN (Arizona Tactical Analysts Network) to its own listserv and it’s increasing membership. AZTAN meetings are held each month at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Crime bulletins are distributed and related crime patterns and trends are discussed. Summaries of the meetings and the corresponding bulletins are now posted on a password protected section of the AACA website following the meeting. AZTAN began as a small, informal off-shoot of AACA and its relevance to crime analysis has increased over the years, as has attendance at meetings. In 2008, the group was large enough to warrant its own listserv and a separate protected area of the website.
Over the last ten years, the AACA has continued to serve as a phenomenal networking experience! Talent within the association has grown and the demand for skilled, knowledgeable crime analysts in law enforcement has increased. Decision-makers rely on crime analysis more and more every day and as the public's ability to demand more information regarding crime and criminals increases, so too will the recognition that a well-trained crime analyst is a necessity for every community. Today the AACA is a large, organized group of analysts and officers from all over the state who engage in crime analysis information sharing; establishment of crime analysis standards and goals; and providers of instruction on crime analysis theory and practice.
* Updated June 2009
1998 – Paul Bentley (Scottsdale)
1999 – Paul Bentley (Scottsdale)
2000 – Rachel Boba (Tempe)
2001 – Jill Fowler (Gilbert)
2002 – Connie Kostelac (Phoenix)
2003 – Tammye Garrett (Tempe)
2004 – Eric Nelson (Tempe)
2005 – Pete Garza (Mesa)
2006 – Mary Kirkwood (Scottsdale)
2007 – Judy Fernandez (Gilbert)
2008-2009** – Aimee Currey (El Mirage)
2010-2011 – Doug Smith (Avondale)
* AACA Presidents are elected in November and their term typically begins at the February meeting of the following year. However the period of December - January typically finds both presidents “in charge” (the incoming and outgoing) as the two officers transition, resulting in small periods of time when there may be two Presidents and/or when terms may overlap.
** In 2008, terms for AACA Presidents changed to two years.