Friday, October 21, 2011

Made me think

Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, is among my crime analysis/GIS pals.  We met about a dozen years ago, "networking" after a conference session. Jerry is unusual in is field, in that he has a decade of experience as a police officer at the London Metropolitan Police before he moved on to academe.  Dr. Ratcliffe maintains a personal website that is chock-full of great stuff.  He also has a wicked sense of humor, and the best presentation style--bar none--I've ever seen.

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend a session Jerry presented at the National Institute of Justice's Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety conference.  His topic was the impact of crime theory on police practice, a topic that staved off writer's block for me during an entire week of bloging a few years ago.  He focused on routine activities theory, rational choice theory, crime pattern theory and the types of police strategies that flow from these theories of crime: crime prevention through environmental design, situational crime prevention, geographic profiling.  

It was a good session, primarily review for me, but he said one thing in particular that piqued my interest and, made me think,and caused me to reach for a pen. When discussing rationale choice theory,  Dr. Ratcliffe opined that criminals do not often consider the risk of apprehension, rather are usually concerned only with the immediate escape.  So true.  This observation suggests that investigating crimes with an eye towards clearance after-the-fact, whatever it's merits, is unlikely to cause criminals to stop and reconsider their actions before they commit the crime.  Strategies that create the appearance or reality that immediate escape will be difficult, on the other hand, can effectively prevent crime.  This difference has some clear strategic implications.

My own presentation at the conference will be later this morning, concerning our new location-based services application, P3i.  I also had a great opportunity to discuss our current fire station relocation study with another friend, Bruce Silva from the Omega Group.  We buy the CrimeView family of products from his firm, but they also market a suite of similar products for fire departments, named FireView, naturally.  Bruce is quite familiar with fire operations and data, and confirmed my feeling that our current study is headed down the right path.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great meeting !

Brian Fitzgerald said...

Have you read/seen moneyball? Do you see similarities between the way that data analasys was first received by baseball, then used to transform it in some ways and the use of tools like GIS in law enforcement/public safety?

Steve said...

I'm guessing you're not considering "shoot to kill" as a strategy for deterring crime.

Good one, 5:53!

Anonymous said...

5:53: That's so funny! Made me laugh.

Randy Cecrle said...

Saw this presentation at the court technology conference this year and thought you would be interested

Ending the revolving door of justice: How technology helped one judge reengineer his court

Judge Steven Leifman, CTC2011's keynote on Oct. 5, will tell the story of how he built the necessary support to restructure the courts in Miami-Dade County, Florida – and how reengineering can be replicated in courts across the country.

Find out how Miami-Dade reduced congestion in its justice system, saved money, and served the public.

Since 2007, Judge Leifman has served as Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida. Judge Leifman has been featured in many national and regional television and radio programs about the criminal justice system and mental health, including on CNN, PBS, and NPR.

Christopher Bruce said...

I wish I'd attended Jerry's session now, because I would have loved to see the research on the issue of "getting caught" vs. "immediate escape." A number of years ago, for a grad school project, I interviewed a young man who had done time for a purse snatching (and probation violation) several years prior. From him, I got the impression that eventual apprehension was much less of a concern than immediate apprehension. He told me that he would have still committed the crime even if there was a 100% chance of getting arrested four months later because "four months was like a lifetime back then." I'm glad to hear this empirically validated by research.

Anonymous said...

Considering recent local incidents, is it timely to revisit this topic?

Anonymous said...

Two years ago I moved from a neighborhood in the Country Club area to an apartment with a garage in a seedier part of Lincoln. Instead of being surrounded by home owners almost all of my neighbors now are renters or on section 8 housing. It has been an experience almost as eye opening as working for the department of corrections for ten years. So far I have been lucky and I have just been the victim of a garage theft and a broken radio antenna on my jalopy. I have learned a lot about the "dark side" in conversations with neighbors over a beer. It has been an education and has convinced me that the ONLY real solutions to our problems as a society are the rules written in the Bible by our creator. Sadly that book is ignored by a majority of our citizens.

Gun Nut