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NIJ Grant for Crime Hotspot Research Goes to Jefferis of Public Health

Posted Nov. 12, 2013

Funded by a new $472,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice, Eric Jefferis, Ph.D., associate professor, Social & Behavioral Sciences, and Kent State colleagues in sociology and geography, will take a close look at generators of crime in Northeast Ohio.  The scholars will combine geographic information system (GIS)-encoded videos and interviews with police and community members to analyze an area’s crime potential.
From narrative interviews and geospatial mapping videos taken in repeated visits over 30 months, the researchers will create predictive models to improve a city’s crime analysis capability.  Police and community leaders could use the information to assess where they can make the biggest impact.  “Rather than just chase the next call, they can be proactive and intervene,” says Jefferis.
The goal of the study is to advance the base of knowledge about how and why crime hotspots develop.  For example, abandoned houses are often viewed as “collectors of blight” that provide a “tipping point” for development of a hotspot, Jefferis says.  The study will investigate whether that widely held assumption is valid.  The research also will examine how a community internalizes and anticipates what happens within its borders.  “Crime isn’t just about crime – it’s about fear of crime,” he says.
Jefferis’ collaborators are Lauren Porter, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, and Andrew Curtis, Ph.D., associate professor of geography.  Findings are anticipated in 2016.