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Jonah Riggle ’16, crime analyst

Sociology Alum Fights Crime From Behind the Scenes

A crime analyst for the Green Bay Police Department, Jonah Riggle ’16 makes it clear that he’s not a detective. He doesn’t have a badge or carry a gun, but he does play an important role in combatting crime in northeast Wisconsin.

“Crime analysis involves taking crime data that the police department or any other law enforcement agency collects, looking at large data sets and using that data to determine which crimes are going up, which crimes are going down, when they’re taking place. It’s also about identifying individuals, identifying networks of people, criminal networks such as gangs, and assisting detectives in casework,” says Riggle.

Mapping out the data
A large portion and a favorite task of the job for Riggle is mapping. He compares it to the old police television dramas where the detectives place stick pins in a map on the wall, only now it’s digital.

“GIS (geographic information systems) is an integral part of the job,” he says. “That’s using different computer software to create these sort of point maps, hot-spot maps to show that here is where the crime is condensed.”

The maps and data charts created by Riggle are referred to as products which are presented to leaders in the department. “They decide what to do with the information,” he says. “For example, we are having an issue in this part of town with burglaries, so we are going to upgrade our resources in this area. Sometimes those can be short-term fixes and other times, those can require looking at large data sets over time and looking at a long-term problem.”

Riggle also enjoys intel work, including digging into specific events to try to identify connections. “You have one guy who is present at a whole bunch of shootings, that’s a connection,” he says. “How is one guy linked to three incidents? That’s very interesting.

“You kind of have a little bit of that detective role, a little bit of a data analyst role and a little bit of an IT role. You’re kind of a jack of all trades. You have large amounts of responsibility.”

From Kansas to Milwaukee to Green Bay
Riggle’s first crime analyst position was a two-plus year stint in Wichita, Kan. He then worked in Milwaukee for 16 months before joining the Green Bay Police Department in August of last year.

“They are three very different places with their own specialized problems,” says Riggle. “Milwaukee has seen large increases in violent crime and a very large auto theft issue the previous two years. Due to size and amount of people here (Green Bay), we don’t see those large crime numbers. You must compare a city to itself in the past. You can’t compare Green Bay to Milwaukee. What was Green Bay five years ago? What was Green Bay three years ago? Six months ago? That’s when we see the picture of what’s happening.”

Riggle has done ride-alongs with officers to learn more about crime hot spots in the city. “Growing up in this area, I had ideas in my head about what some of the rougher spots were. Now that I do this professionally, I realize that there are bigger hot spots in other areas. You definitely learn some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that you don’t necessarily see in the general public,” he says.

His appreciation for the work of police officers has grown in his position. Their retention of knowledge stands out, he says.

“The officers remember that house, who lives at that house, who’s all been at that house. They remember the car. They see the taillight of a car (in a photo) and can tell the make and model. It’s really astounding at times. I’ve bounced around. I don’t have that knowledge base.”

Connecting the dots and forming connections
Riggle earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology from St. Norbert College. He admits that he didn’t know what he was going to do with his education at the time of graduation. For his sociology degree he took criminology courses taught by Cheryl Carpenter-Siegel (Sociology). “I really enjoyed those courses. My dad is a professor at St. Norbert in teacher education, Dr. Reid Riggle. His work in higher education suggested that I continue my education,” he says.

Following graduation from St. Norbert, Riggle earned a Master’s in criminal justice from UW-Milwaukee, which offered a crime analytics track. He returned to the St. Norbert College campus this past fall to speak to students in an introductory GIS course taught by Krissy Lukens, director of academic technology. Riggle says that his education at the Norbertine liberal arts college prepared him well for the workplace.

“Those principles apply to every field. Communio applies to the arts, business. Everyone gets those same principles going out in the world,” he says. “If you have those base principles – working together and working hard – you’re going to be successful.”

Jan. 18, 2023