Sociology, Criminology, and Justice Studies Alumna is Columbus Crime Fighter
Posted Jul 07, 2023
By Maggie Nicol ’25
Not all crime fighters patrol the streets, respond to emergency calls, and arrest suspects. Some, like Sociology, Criminology, and Justice Studies alumna Shilah Alexander ’21, analyze data to establish patterns that can be used to support the work of law enforcement officers, solve open cases, and prevent future crimes.
Alexander is one of three crime analysts that work on the six divided zones that make up the City of Columbus. She focuses on the crimes that happen on the west and southwest side of the city.
Crime analysts are the experts who work to reveal the where, when, and what happened at the time a crime takes place. “I start every day by reading crime reports the officers make, and I then look for crime patterns,” Alexander said.
“I think one of the most challenging parts of my job is being able to identify the crime patterns,” she said. “Sometimes people commit the same crime, but that does not always mean it was executed the same way.”
Using statistical analysis, her department makes crime pattern advisories, which allows the officers to learn more about the suspects. These crime pattern advisories can describe what the individual looks like, the crimes that the individual/individuals have committed, and summarize patterns for detectives assigned to the case.
Alexander explained that communication with the police is a critical part of this role, but the most rewarding part is being able to assist the officers and detectives with their cases. “If I have an officer request for more information about a suspect’s specific location and description, I can help narrow down where to look.”
“One of the most surprising parts about my role is how crime analysis is different from intel analysis. Intel allows you to dive deeper into the specific person, whereas for crime analysis, it is more general about the person of interest,” said Alexander.
She credits Otterbein and Associate Professor Leesa Kern for helping her with her career path.
“Otterbein gave me all the tools that I needed to be successful. I was able to interview well and do well on the entrance test to even get the chance to be interviewed. There are so many amazing professors at Otterbein, they gave me the tools and guidance that I needed to be successful. Dr. Kern specifically helped me to navigate through college and was a support to me even after I graduated. Because of Dr. Kern, I developed an interest in crime and was able to drive deeper and learn more about my passions and what I hoped to get out of my career,” said Alexander.