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Crime Mapping: New Tools for Law Enforcement.

Crime Mapping Crime mapping is used by analysts in law enforcement agencies to map, visualize, and analyze crime incident patterns. It is a key component of crime analysis and the CompStat policing strategy. : New Tools for Law Enforcement, Irvin B. Vann and G. David Garson, Peter Lang Publishing Company, New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
, New York, 2003.

Geographic information systems geographic information system (GIS)

Computerized system that relates and displays data collected from a geographic entity in the form of a map. The ability of GIS to overlay existing data with new information and display it in colour on a computer screen is used primarily to
 (GIS), commonly referred to as crime mapping, are becoming indispensable crime-control tools for law enforcement executives. With the advent of inexpensive desktop computers and user-friendly mapping software, employing crime maps as a way to evaluate intelligence data, develop strategies, deploy personnel, and monitor crime trends is crucial for effective law enforcement.

Authors Irvin B. Vann and G. David Garson have written a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide on crime-mapping essentials. They make several salient points about the effectiveness of crime mapping and the ease with which agencies can prepare crime maps. The first two chapters introduce crime-mapping basics, common terminology, and the varieties of crime maps. The authors succinctly suc·cinct  
adj. suc·cinct·er, suc·cinct·est
1. Characterized by clear, precise expression in few words; concise and terse: a succinct reply; a succinct style.

 explain how to build spatial databases and interpret data output. Chapter 3 details how to manage crime with GIS through specific types of maps. Some of the examples include displaying drug-free school zones Drug-free school zone is a term used in the United States to denote an area within a certain distance, most commonly 1,000 feet, of the nearest school, park, or other public area. Signs to this effect are generally posted along all public streets at the entrances to such an area.  by creating 1,000-foot buffer zones, integrating problem-oriented and community policing, and allocating resources.

Chapter 4 explains spatial models that concentrate on specific situations, such as the relationship between convenience store robberies and actual store locations. Another example involves displaying burglary locations to known burglars' residences. This type of modeling is imperative to situational crime prevention. The authors also describe multivariate analysis multivariate analysis,
n a statistical approach used to evaluate multiple variables.

multivariate analysis,
n a set of techniques used when variation in several variables has to be studied simultaneously.
, which constitutes the most compelling part of the book. Because crime often is linked to environmental and demographic conditions, building a multivariate The use of multiple variables in a forecasting model.  model allows crime analysts to examine the relationship between specific crimes (e.g., auto theft, homicide, robbery, and burglary) and social, demographic, or environmental conditions (e.g., poverty, unemployment, the elderly, young adults 16 to 24, abandoned houses, and vacant lots). Multivariate analysis represents the key to designing successful situational crime prevention programs because a solution depends on a thorough analysis of the precursors to the problem.

Chapters 5 and 6 discuss how crime mapping influences decision making. This includes a review of the SARA Sara or Sarah, in the Bible, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. With Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, she was one of the four Hebrew matriarchs. Her name was originally Sarai [Heb.,=princess].  (Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment) model of problem solving problem solving

Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error.
 and New York City's Compstat and Philadelphia's Crimestat processes, which serve as two outstanding examples of how crime mapping represents one part of a larger crime-control process. The book concludes with a discussion about social policy and how crime maps may have unintended consequences For the "Law of unintended consequences", see Unintended consequence

Unintended Consequences is a novel by author John Ross, first published in 1996 by Accurate Press.
, such as the right to privacy because many police departments upload their maps to the Internet for community use.

The book is replete with actual experiences from various law enforcement organizations throughout the country, including large and small departments, municipal and county police agencies, and sheriff's offices. It offers an excellent reference section for additional reading and an appendix of law enforcement Web sites with crime maps. The book is an excellent supplement to any academy text or management course on crime-control strategies, community policing, situational crime prevention, and problem solving.

Reviewed by

Captain Jon M. Shane

Newark, New Jersey, Police Department
COPYRIGHT 2006 Federal Bureau of Investigation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Shane, Jon M.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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