American Sentinel GIS student Senior Cpl. DJ Beaty, police GIS and geospatial analysis for the Dallas Police Department, points out that none of the precinct’s officers have GIS degrees — he wanted to be the first.
Service to one’s community and country has long been a theme in DJ Beaty’s family.
The son of a 20-year U.S. Army veteran, DJ was encouraged from the time he was a teenager to join the military. However, he decided to follow the path of law enforcement, and joined the Dallas Police Force in 1995. He started out as a patrolman, then moved into covert operations and eventually ended up as a neighborhood policing officer. To his surprise that work is what got him into GIS.
Forging a New Career Path
During his time as a neighborhood policing officer, DJ got involved with various neighborhoods’ crime watch programs. Citizens with whom he interacted continually requested crime data about their geographic areas. “Everyone wanted to see crime statistics on a map so they could get an idea of patterns and trends in the area, criminal activity and that kind of thing,” DJ says. “My department would supply me that information, but it became clear very quickly that we needed the ability to map that data and present maps and other information to our community members.”
DJ took on crime data analysis duties in addition to his regular job responsibilities. The more he did the work, the more he enjoyed it. And when a GIS police analyst position came available within the department in 2012, he jumped at the opportunity. Today, he compiles geospatial data that comes into the Dallas Police Department, processes it with Esri software and creates maps that help the police department track and interpret criminal activity throughout the city. “I believe we are one of the most advanced departments in the country that actually uses GIS efficiently and effectively,” DJ says.
Earning the Credentials to Augment His Experience
Admittedly, DJ fell into his police GIS career—but it turned out to be a perfect fit. Before long, he concluded that it was time to pursue further education. “None of the police officers in our department have a GIS degree, and I want to be the first,” DJ says. In early 2013, he began looking for a program that would give him the technical and geospatial education to supplement his on-the-job experience. “I decided to look online because there were no programs within my area, and when I found American Sentinel, I said, ‘well that’s the one.’”
Since beginning the B.S. Geographic Information Systems program in June 2013, DJ has already learned so much. “The program really fits my needs as a practitioner,” he says. He’s having so much fun, he adds that when he graduates in 2015 he plans to pursue American Sentinel’s Master of Geospatial Information Systems as well.
“I want to be the best I can be for the department,” says DJ. “These degrees will help me become that go-to police GIS expert. But also, I’m doing this for me, and that feels pretty good.”