Millikin MBA Data Analytics Students Conduct first-of-its-kind research on domestic violence in Macon County

The Performance Learning project with Dove, Inc. took six months to complete.

MBA Students

DECATUR, Ill. – When retired Decatur Police Lieutenant Shannon Gutierrez Seal needed assistance developing a system to analyze domestic violence statistics in Macon County, she turned to Millikin University's Tabor School of Business

Gutierrez Seal reached out to Jaclyn Cantwell, Director of Millikin’s MBA Program, and Cantwell saw that opportunity as the perfect Performance Learning Project for the MBA Data Analytics students. 

“I have enjoyed seeing this project progress over these past six months. It was the perfect example of Performance Learning and taking what they learned in the classroom and applying it to a real-world setting,” Cantwell said. “We were starting the new MBA cohort in June, so we jumped on board with these students so they could develop something for Shannon. The students have worked on it in three different classes with three faculty members.”

The nine students developed their skills during the summer in Data Mining. They continued in Data Visualization and Business Forecasting, taught by Millikin Tabor School of Business faculty Jason Sexton, James Wilkerson and Brian Stenke, respectively. 

The skills were critical to the project, which wanted to give a complete picture of domestic violence statistics in Macon County for 2023. 

 Shannon Gutierrez Seal
Former Decatur Police Department Lieutenant Shannon Gutierrez Seal speaks during the presentation on domestic violence statistics in Macon County. 

“You can think of it as a giant funnel of information. There are police calls for service from all nine police agencies in Macon County. What were their responses to domestic violence crimes? Was there a report? Was it founded or was it unfounded? Was there an arrest? Once an arrest is made, were the state’s attorneys charging it or not charging? If they are not charging it, then it disappears. If they charge it, it goes on to the circuit clerk, and we follow it through the judicial process,” Gutierrez Seal said. 

Compiling and interpreting that data was complicated and required gathering information from several state and local agencies. 

 

“Each entity keeps its own data, but they don't communicate to the circuit clerks, and the codes they use between the agencies are not the same. A police report number has nothing to do with the number a circuit clerk assigns to a criminal court case,” Gutierrez Seal said. “Connecting those is a real hassle. You have to put physical pieces of paper together and draw lines. At this point, there is no software or connection IT-wise to make all of these things flow. 

“This is the only study like this in Illinois and probably the nation, as far as we can tell. The state of Illinois tracks the law enforcement’s involvement with domestic violence, and it stops there. It has never gone beyond that.”

The students presented their findings to Dove, Inc. representatives, members of the Decatur Police Department, the State’s Attorney’s Office and Tabor School of Business faculty, on December 12. Their research brought some interesting insights into the level of domestic violence in the area. 

Adriyanna Patterson
Millikin MBA student Adriyanna Patterson presents data on domestic violence in Macon County. 

The presenters included Millikin students Jacob Bailey ’23, Seth Hansen ’21, Aidan Hart ’23, Adriyanna Patterson ’23, Larissa Senga ’23, Bryce Shumaker ’23, Kevin Tavarczky ’14 and Alex Zogg ’23. They found from January through November 2023, Macon County accounted for 5% of all domestic violence calls in Illinois. In total, domestic violence calls to police will likely surpass 3,000 for all of 2023 in the county. Of those calls, 46% occurred after 4 p.m. each day, and the peak call month was June. They found that 81% of Macon County domestic violence offenders are male and 19% are female, compared nationally to 90% male offenders and 10% female.

“We got this project on our very first day of class, and we didn’t realize at first how important this project would be to us and the community. We were tasked with creating a metric system along with visualizations and a lot of data, and there was a lot of hard work and some grueling nights,” said Millikin Criminal Justice undergraduate Adriyanna Patterson. “This experience has been so rewarding. I was expecting to do some experiments and play with some numbers, but this project is real-world stuff about a serious topic that no one anticipated.”

Seth Hansen
Millikin MBA student Seth Hansen presents data on domestic violence in Macon County.

The project was funded by a donation to Dove, Inc., a Decatur-based organization that works for justice, equality and understanding among all people, by Ed Bacharach, who has donated to several domestic violence prevention programs in Macon County. 

“We learned through this project that you have to be quick on your feet with something like this because people rely on it and need this information,” Patterson said. “The project will help Dove understand where its resources are going, how to allocate them, and what else they can do for domestic violence.”

The 2023 domestic violence metrics for Macon County are publicly viewable on Tableau Public. To access the data, go to http://public.tableau.com and type "MC Courtwatch" in the search bar in the upper right portion of the screen. Once open, there are three main tabs and several different areas studied bythe students that can be opened on the dashboard.