Improving criminal investigations with structured analytic techniques

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The intelligence community has used structured analytic techniques, methods designed to reduce bias and increase transparency of process, for years. The techniques force analysts out of routine thinking and away from heuristic habits in order to increase creativity, more comprehensively evaluate the questions, and create a document trail that reveals the thinking process that led to the intelligence product. These methods can be adapted for use in criminal investigations to help reduce bias, improve accuracy, and avoid both wrongful convictions (over 2200 to date) and reparations (more than $2.2 billion) while optimizing resources. The methods shift the investigator from intuitive, daily thinking (System 1, in Kahneman’s terminology) to a more analytical approach (System 2) that creates a transparent process, regardless of the outcome. Structured analytical techniques are simple to use, inexpensive, and largely visual; they promote transparency, creativity, and group discussion, leading to better-supported results.




Houck, M. M. (2020). Improving criminal investigations with structured analytic techniques. In Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications (pp. 123–159). Springer.

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