The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) stated in 2005, “Crimes are human phenomena; therefore, their distribution across the landscape is not geographically random ("What is crime-mapping," 2005).” The use of crime maps and crime mapping techniques within the study of criminology are hugely significant in identifying crime trends of the past and present as well as developing prevention methods for the future. For this paper, first crime mapping will be defined, then specifically looked at for an area which I have chosen, Douglas County, Nebraska. Finally, I will utilize the information found on the crime map data shared to either support or refute a criminological theory which has been discussed thus far in our Criminology class.
An Introduction to Crime Maps and Crime Mapping
What is a crime map? A crime map is created when analysts can pinpoint the locations of where criminal activity happens onto a map, usually of a city county or any other area under research. The information can be combined with other data, including social data such as neighborhood median incomes, and the locations of shopping centers, parks, schools, etc. ("Mapping and analysis," 2013). The maps can give insight into the underlying issues that open the door to criminal activity and can be helpful in planning crime prevention strategies.
According to the textbook, Criminology: The Core, crime mapping has been defined as a research technique that uses computerized crime maps and other graphical representations of crime data patterns (Siegel, 2010). These maps can range from very basic and simple, like thumb-tacks on a road map, to very complex maps which layer a variety of factors about the specific information about the nature of the crimes, location in relevance to median income, etc.
Crime Mapping: Douglas County, Nebraska
I chose to search for crime mapping done in Omaha, Nebraska, and came up with information for all of Douglas County. The Douglas County Sheriff website states:
“Crime mapping is used by analysts at the Douglas County Sherriff’s Office to map, visualize, and analyze crime incident patterns. Mapping crime, using computer software known as Geographic Information Systems, allows our crime analysts to identify crime hot spots, along with other trends and patterns.” (Douglas County Sheriff, 2013)
This is clearly an explanation of how the Douglas County law enforcement agencies are able to utilize the crime maps that are generated. It does go on to include that the crime maps can be a useful tool to the public in identifying, reporting and preventing crime as well.
The findings of the crime map I used showed a very low amount of crime in about 1/3 of the county in the southeast section of Douglas County, but much...