Sunday, September 27, 2009

More on crime techniques

Stephanie Ramage has an interesting post up that is a different take on the AJC's crime opus
We know that when a reporter spends more than 2,000 words on the number of reported crimes, police department policies and the media’s role in perception, with only about 600 devoted to any actual crime—the John Henderson slaying and a list of homicide highlights that left out the murder of Harish Roy—and that no survivors of those crimes are interviewed for the story, the story is not about crime: It’s about numbers, policies, and low-rating other media.
The story is a little bit too inside-baseball for me, media wise.  Still, she has some solid points about how the AJC compares Atlanta to other cities.  I also think there is a density issue to the "asset turnover" of police officers.  Denser cities, like Boston, can get more use per officer because they spend less time driving to and fro and more time policing.  That is just an idea of mine, though, with no proof.

I'm personally more interested in learning about the criminologist she interviews, David Weisburd.  He's apparently done some work on effective policing techniques, and a quick googling brings up this book on crime mapping, as well as a number of other books. She gave him a call:
It was Weisburd who studied policing in Minneapolis in the mid-1990s and found that by concentrating more police in troubled micro-areas or “hot spots,” crime could be reduced overall by as much as 13 percent. Since then, he says, the method has only grown in currency and support. The entwined ideas that adding police doesn’t have much impact on crime and that for a city like Atlanta, with a poverty problem, “a high crime rate is inevitable”—as the AJC’s Judd claims “criminologists say”—are outdated.

 “That used to be a consensus among criminologists,” says Weisburd. “But at least since 1990, there has been a growing body of literature about how police can affect crime rates.”
He doesn’t discount the fact that various social factors affect crime, but, he says, “there are poor areas with little crime.”
I am curious about how the APD utilizes the crime-mapping data they have.  I assume, and hope, that they use the data for more than a web page display and public information.  However, I don't hear much about how they are using it to target hot spots and to inform officer distribution.  I also think it is slightly ridiculous that someone like me (with el hermano and Cassie) has to be the one who produces the GIS maps and data reports on micro-levels.  It would be unbelievably simple for the APD to generate data reports and maps on a regular basis.


  1. I would be interested in hearing specific examples of poor areas that have little crime.

    I'm being sincere -- if they exist, where are they and what are the other factors that reduce crime in these places?

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