Michael Bachmann’s weapon of choice: the keyboard

Criminal Justice professor is leading the next big movement in cybercrime at home and abroad


Bachmann’s training class in Honduras

Criminal Justice professor Michael Bachmann is in high-demand these days. An expert in the intersecting fields of technology and crime, he’s traveling around the world to help governments and organizations identify and prevent violent crime.

Originally from Germany, Bachmann joined the TCU faculty in 2008 and has authored several chapters and articles on cybercrimes. His work at TCU ranges from computer hacker subcultures and ethics to the facilitation of crime investigation through geospatial mapping applications.

Fighting Crime Abroad

In May, Bachmann traveled to Honduras as a USAID consultant to train special anti-extortion units of the Honduran National Police. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world outside of an active war zone. San Pedro Sula, the second stop on his trip, is considered the murder capital of the world and has double the murder rate of Acapulco, the second-most violent city in the world.

HondurasFor four days, Bachmann trained special units to use data collection and digital surveillance to help predict where future crimes would occur. Modern Honduras is an “environment where human life is next to worthless,” he said. Through his efforts with the USAID and local officials, he’s hoping this will change.

“These Honduran officers operate under very high personal risk,” he noted. “Through our training in geospatial mapping applications and tracking search and seizure techniques, we are hoping to implement a shift from a reactive to a proactive police force through the use of data.”

The training session concluded on a high note. For Bachmann, the training was not just personally rewarding, but also well-received. He’s been invited by the USAID to be retained as a consultant on its crime prevention development initiatives and will return later this fall.

After completing his training program in Honduras, Bachmann received an invitation to present his study “Passwords are dead: The future of authentication systems” at the International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics (ISI) in The Hague. The conference, scheduled for September, is considered the single most important conference in its field, focusing on interdisciplinary research on information technology of intelligence and security.

Affecting Change at Home

When Bachmann is not traveling to international conferences and running training sessions for law enforcement, he is making serious contributions to crime prevention at home.

Some of his current research includes projects funded by the Department of Justice and National Institute of Justice, on reducing firearm and gang violence in American neighborhoods and developing the first national database on cases against organized crime and human trafficking, respectively.

Using a “research-driven, intelligence-led and problem-solving approach,” Bachmann’s goal is to reduce crimes committed by the most violent offenders in the most violent neighborhoods through enforcement, deterrence and prevention.

On an even more local level, Bachmann is also working with the new Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. In collaboration with the Center’s director Dr. Dyann Daley, Bachmann implements geospatial and statistical analyses to identify the areas in which child abuse is most prevalent. “The goal is to significantly reduce the level of child maltreatment in Fort Worth over the next two years,” he noted.

While conversations around big data, surveillance and privacy are hot-button topics in the United States right now, Bachmann hopes his research and applied methods are helping make a positive impact on the safety of our society. “Information technologies have become ubiquitous, and we all depend on their correct functioning for almost every aspect of our lives,” he said. “We need to ensure that we retain control over their functioning and integrity, and use them to help address some of our most pressing societal problems.”

Michael Bachmann is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Technology & Crime. Read his full biography here.

The Department of Criminal Justice is part of the AddRan College of Liberal Arts and offers both undergraduate and graduate tracks of study. To learn more, visit cjp.tcu.edu.