2015 USGIF Scholarship recipient Crystal English spoke at the 2015 Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units 20/20 event about the geospatial visualization of digital communications surveillance for urban peacekeeping deployment.

Like most students, Crystal English didn’t know what her career path would be when she graduated high school. Having grown up in a military family, she joined the U.S. Army Signals Intelligence Service where she held a position in communications operations for nearly four years.

Following her military career, English earned associate’s degrees in television/radio production and administration of justice, as well as a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Having nurtured an interest in law enforcement while in college, English decided to attend Fullerton College Basic Police Academy in California. It was after exploring other options in law enforcement that she chose to become a crime analyst.

“I wanted an outlet that served both local law enforcement and the community they serve,” English said. “Crime analysis and mapping were the best fit. It allowed me to visualize the problem and ask the deeper questions about why certain crime was occurring in some locations and not others. In answering such questions, better solutions to mitigating crime can be derived in a more holistic way—one that involves all stakeholders.”

In 2010, English earned a certification in crime and intelligence analysis from the California Department of Justice. As part of the certification process, she completed a 400-hour internship with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation where she collected, collated, and analyzed criminal data from case files. English then went on to achieve a master’s degree in geography and geographic information science (GIS) at California State University, Northridge in 2013.

Now, English is on the path to achieve a Ph.D. in geography and GIS through a joint doctoral program with San Diego State University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. While obtaining her Ph.D., English has consulted for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Major Crimes Division.

English said the USGIF scholarships she received in both 2013 and 2015 have been of great benefit to her doctoral dissertation, which continues research from her master’s degree thesis and focuses on identifying underlying variables that influence urban crime in U.S. cities.

“The scholarship funds helped with travel for my research, which requires me to conduct field work and to speak with law enforcement officials,” she said.

English is expected to complete her Ph.D. in summer 2016, after which she hopes to work in a research capacity assisting local law enforcement.

“I want to have a positive impact on crime prevention,” English said. “I know I want to help create an atmosphere where communities have a better quality of life and a safe environment.”

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