The e-newsletter of the COPS Office | Volume 2 | Issue 10 | October 2009

Geography Matters!
Highlights from the 10th Crime Mapping Research Conference

Over the last 2 years, the COPS Office has partnered with the National Institute of Justice Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (NIJ MAPS) program to develop a quarterly newsletter, Geography & Public Safety, which highlights the importance of using spatial analysis to respond to community concerns and crime problems. Last month, COPS Office staff had the opportunity to expand this working relationship by participating in NIJ’s 10th Crime Mapping Research Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. COPS Office analysts were among the distinguished lost of presenters at this year’s conference, which featured a new scholarship program created for conference attendees.

This year’s conference, which focused on solving problems with geography and technology, offered the more than 400 attendees an extensive agenda of presentations and workshops on research findings, practical applications, and technology demonstrations. Topics ranged from hot spot analysis, to data-driven approaches, to traffic safety, to the use of the U.S. Postal Service vacancy data, and mapping the implications of sex offender residency restriction laws. All the sessions reminded attendees that geographic technologies can help law enforcement agencies understand crime more completely, deploy public safety resources more efficiently, and examine criminal justice policies critically.

COPS Office participation included a workshop titled, Keeping Up with the Jonesboro Police Department. This presentation, by John Markovic, displayed existing geographic and tabular data compiled from several sources to illustrate the benefits of mapping law enforcement resources in a detailed and robust geographic framework to support disaster preparedness and regional planning among the 18,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Nicole Scalisi, in conjunction with Bruce Taylor of the Police Executive Research Forum and Apollo Kowalyk of the Planning and Projects Division of the Government of Alberta, Canada, presented a session titled, Integrating Crime Analysis into Patrol Work. This presentation discussed the results of a national survey of law enforcement agencies to assess their current use of crime analysis and its integration with patrol, including promising practices and barriers. Numerous focus groups, working groups, and conference calls were conducted, and the themes and key concepts from this work were presented. A guidebook is forthcoming from the COPS Office that will assist police agencies in using crime analysis for patrol work, with a specific focus on how crime analysis will aid patrol officers to better engage in community policing by building stronger partnerships, problem solving, and encouraging agencies’ commitment to use analysis to better aid organizational functionality and mission.

This year, conference attendees were invited to apply for assistance with their conference expenses in a new program created and sponsored by the COPS Office and NIJ MAPS. Five scholarships were awarded: Emily Blackburn, Crime Analyst, St. Louis (Missouri) Metropolitan Police Department; Lucinda Corley, Crime Analyst, Deer Park (Texas) Police Department; Detective Katherine Cruz, Cleveland (Ohio) Police Department; Jill Eck, Crime Analyst, Grand Prairie (Texas) Police Department; and Detective Brian Scavotto, Mount Dora (Florida) Police Department.

Eck summed up her experience, saying, “It was an honor to be selected as a scholarship recipient for the MAPS conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference was a wonderful experience and gave me the opportunity to meet top professionals in the field. I left the conference with several ideas on how to advance my current analysis and data dissemination. One presentation of particular interest was identifying near-repeat crime patterns by Jerry Ratcliffe. I would like to work with the near-repeat calculator to better understand this phenomenon. Utilizing such a tool would allow me to better advise patrol of where and how long to focus on a problem area. This would be valuable information for my agency.”

Congratulations to the scholarship winners and to the NIJ MAPS program on another successful Crime Mapping Research Conference.

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If you are interested in receiving the Geography & Public Safety newsletter, please contact Nicole J. Scalisi at Nicole.scalisi@usdoj.gov.