Community Health, Anti-social Behavior and Safety at Street Segments

David Weisburd (PI), Brian Lawton (co-PI), Justin Ready (co-PI), Clair White, Danielle Rudes, Matthew Nelson, Sean Wire

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), $3,017,000, 9/2012-8/2017

The current study seeks to understand how living in drug or violent crime hot spots (defined as individual street segments in a city) influences personal health, mental health, HIV and STIs, safe sex practices, drug use, crime and other anti-social behaviors. Further, it seeks to develop knowledge on why places become drug or crime hot spots and how characteristics of street segments and their residents impact upon developmental trends of health, drug use and crime.

We have finished two waves of data collection, completing over 7,500 surveys across 450 street segments in Baltimore. The final wave of data collection will be in 2017.

NIDA Project Methodology

Addressing Mental Health Problems at Crime Hot Spots: A Demonstration Project of a Police and Mental Health Professional Outreach Program in Baltimore, Maryland

David Weisburd (PI), Clair White (Co-PI), Victoria Goldberg

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), $191,950

The project focuses on developing and pilot testing an innovative community policing program that partners police officers and mental health clinicians to spend time on hot spots of crime (street segments). A majority of police programs aimed at improving police response to people experiencing a mental health crisis are reactive in nature, but our program focuses on identifying the places where individuals have high need and using a proactive, problem-solving approach to connect people to services and prevent crises. The teams were able to provide resources and information to residents and individuals on the street with a focus on mental health and behavioral health problems, as well as rebuild trust between the police and community. We developed detailed training materials and a program guide based on the pilot program, and found the program to have the potential to address a number of goals if implemented on a larger scale over a longer period of time. View the final report here.


District of Columbia Project Safe Neighborhoods Evaluation

Cynthia Lum and Christopher Koper (PIs), and Ajima Olagheri

United States Attorney’s Office, Washington DC, $29,999

Final Report

GMU’s professors Lum and Koper and research professor Ajima Olagheri evaluated the 2015 Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) in Washington D.C. The goals of this PSN are the reduction of violence and youth gang-related incidents using a Gang Intervention Partnership (GIP) model that includes critical incident targeting that emphasizes de-escalation and restorative approaches, reducing the potential for retaliation and future violence, and increasing positive outcomes for youth at high risk for gang involvement.


Implementing and evaluating community policing strategies in juvenile crime hot spots

David Weisburd (PI), Charlotte Gill (co-PI), and Zoe Vitter

Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, $250,000

While there is a growing body of research indicating that crime concentrates at small geographic units or ‘hot spots,’ little research has examined the unique characteristics of juvenile offending at places. This project seeks to develop, implement, and rigorously evaluate a community-oriented policing approach to juvenile crime hot spots in Seattle. CEBCP will work with the police and community to develop community policing and problem-solving responses targeted at the specific risk factors for juvenile crime in each hot spot. These strategies, while police-led, will focus on crime prevention rather than traditional arrest-based law enforcement approaches.


Increasing Collective Efficacy at Crime Hot Spots: A Patrol Force Approach in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

David Weisburd (PI), Charlotte Gill (co-PI), and Alese Wooditch

Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Policing Initiative (with Brooklyn Park Police Department), $700,000

This project capitalizes on new evidence that indicators of social control, such as collective efficacy, are concentrated at individual street blocks. High collective efficacy is associated with a lower risk of a block becoming a crime hot spot. Traditional hot spots policing approaches rarely account for the social context of crime at places, or the role of the community in crime prevention. The goal of this project is to develop a problem-solving approach in which the police will help to build collective efficacy by bringing communities together to deal with social as well as physical disorder at hot spots.


Why Places Matter for Crime: What We Know about the Criminology of Place and How it Can Help Us to Control the Crime Problem

(Cambridge University Press)

David Weisburd, John E. Eck, Anthony A. Braga, Kate Bowers, Gerben Bruinsma, Jim Bueermann, Breanne Cave, Charlotte Gill, Elizabeth Groff, Julie Hibdon, Josh Hinkle, Shane D. Johnson, Brian Lawton, Cynthia Lum, Jerry Ratcliffe, George Rengert, Travis Taniguchi, Cody Telep, and Sue-Ming Yang

Why Places Matter for Crime is a collective effort by Crime and Place Working Group members that will summarize three decades of growing scientific inquiry into the criminology of place.  In addition, the volume will lay out an agenda for future research.  Specifically, the book will address the groundwork for the next generation of studies, and identify how such scientific research can contribute to our efforts to respond to crime problems.


Stop, Question, and Frisk Analysis in New York City

David Weisburd, Brian Lawton, and Cody Telep

The New York City Police Department’s controversial stop, question, and frisk (SQF) policy is closely examined in this study. Much of the research currently in existence focuses on the racial and legal (4th Amendment) issues surrounding SQF. This project however seeks to respond to another aspect of SQF: whether the approach is targeted or more diffuse in its focus. In order to assess this question, a geographic analysis of crime incidents in New York City is coupled with an examination of stop encounters. The time frame of assessment for the SQF data and crime data spans from 2008 to 2010. Key Questions for our study include: Are SQFs concentrated at “hot spots”? Are those hot spots overlapping with crime hot spots in the city?  We will also examine whether the approach seems to have crime prevention outcomes.


Evaluation of the Transportation Security Administration’s Comprehensive Strategy to Security at Airports

David Weisburd, Cynthia Lum, Charlotte Gill, Devon Johnson, Linda Merola, Julie Willis Hibdon, Breanne CaveJaspreet Chahal and Heather Vovak

The security of transportation facilities is of national concern and carries significant costs. Yet, very little evidence exists on what types or processes, programs, and interagency strategies yield the most effective cost-beneficial security structures. Through funding from the Department of Homeland Security, this project examines crime prevention and security in our nation’s airports in a multi-stage evaluation.


Sacramento Police Department Partnership

Renee Mitchell, Sacramento PD (PI), David Weisburd, Cynthia Lum, Christopher Koper and Cody Telep

Sgt. Renee Mitchell in collaboration with the CEBCP has recently completed a hot spots policing experiment in Sacramento. Sgt. Mitchell undertook this project without any additional funding. The intervention was associated with an overall decline in calls for service and serious incidents in the treatment hot spots relative to the control hot spots comparing the intervention period to the same time period in the prior year. Preliminary results from the experiment are available here and the COPS Office also summarized the results from the experiment. An article about the experiment also appears in Justice Quarterly.


Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Chief Editors: Gerben Bruinsma and David Weisburd (Crime Places and Situations Volume – Associate Editor: Cynthia Lum).

Springer Verlag (New York) will publish the Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice in a seven volume work in 2012, one which will be entitled “Crime Places and Situations”. The Encyclopedia is an ambitious project to collect the highest quality essays on criminology and related fields that can serve as a comprehensive reference for the next generation of scholars and students. The project seeks to define the parameters of the discipline of criminology and criminal justice, in the spirit of the first encyclopedias first developed in the 18th century.  This encyclopedia will not be a dictionary of the field, but a cutting edge statement of knowledge in the field at this time. The Crime Places and Situations consists of a number of areas in the Crime and Place field, contributed to by the top crime and place scholars in the field.


Evaluation of License Plate Recognition Systems

Cynthia Lum (PI) and Linda Merola (co-PI) with Julie Willis Hibdon and Breanne Cave

Objectives: This randomized controlled experiment tests whether license plate readers (LPR) deter crime generally, and automobile crime more specifically in crime hot spots. The limited intervention tested here reflects one current likely use of LPR at the time of this publication.

Methods: We use a place-based block randomized experiment. Our subjects were 30 hot spots across two jurisdictions, 15 which were assigned to experimental conditions. The treatment involved targeted police patrols using a “sweep and sit” approach with license plate readers in these hot spots, also applying the Koper Curve timing principle. We examine effects of the intervention during and in a 30-day period post-intervention, controlling for pre-intervention levels of crime, seasonal factors, and jurisdiction.

Results: Our findings indicate that, when small numbers of LPR patrols are used in crime hot spots in the way we have tested them here, they do not seem to generate either a general or offense-specific deterrent effect.

Conclusions: While we did not find significant findings of this intervention, a number of limitations and caveats to this study must be considered in conjunction with these findings. The authors suggest how already acquired LPRs might be used in ways that might increase their effectiveness in crime hot spots.

View the full final report to NIJ here.


Exploring Developmental Patterns of Crime at Place

David Weisburd, Elizabeth Groff and Sue-Ming Yang

What contributes to variations of crime patterns across micro-places?

The existence of concentrations of crime events across both space and time has been empirically demonstrated and exists even as the geographic scale of analysis changes.  However, the specific factors associated with this variation across places are less well-known.  This study draws from both opportunity theory and social disorganization to examine the factors associated with micro level crime rates across both space and time.  The spatio-temporal variation of a variety of environmental, social, and economic factors is analyzed.  Specifically, the research describes micro level variation among the individual street blocks in Seattle, Washington over a sixteen year time period. See more about the book from Oxford University Press here.


The Influence of Places on Policing (NIJ DuBois Fellowship)

Cynthia Lum

Do characteristics of places, in particular their racial, ethnic, immigrant, or language composition, influence police decision making?

As the 2007-2008 National Institute of Justice W.E.B. DuBois Fellow, Dr. Lum examines whether police officers “upgrade” or “downgrade” either the seriousness of a call for service or their decision to take further actions (reports, arrests) may be influenced by the characteristics of people who reside at those places.  Over 250,000 “decision making pathways” for all crime and across all small spaces in an entire city are analyzed in this study.