Monday, April 29, 2013

The Crime Analyst’s Blog is Going on Hiatus

I started The Crime Analyst’s Blog four years ago this month. Today’s post makes 1,369 posts. All in all, it’s been a great run.

However, cranking out posts is somewhat time consuming for me and I am finding that I am increasingly lacking time. In the past few months I have gone from posting five days a week to once weekly to try and better manage my time.

During the time I have been blogging, I have seen social media sites such as Twitter mature, gain followers and become an effective way to communicate and share. I have become an avid Twitter user and share more there than anyplace else.

For much of my style of blogging, a link to a news story and a few comments, social media would probably work just as well as the blog. It’s also much more efficient for me.

I also have a couple of partially finished and long neglected book manuscripts gathering dust. I hope that by having a bit more time I can finally get going on them again.

For this reason, I’ve decided to put The Crime Analyst’s Blog on hiatus for the time being. However, I will continue to post interesting crime analysis and law enforcement related items via Twitter so please follow me there.

My Twitter feed is here.

I can’t tell you just how long the blog will be on hiatus. I have no specific plans in that regard. Once I take a break and get some other projects out of the way I’ll get a chance to mull all that over. However, I’ll still respond to comments and emails regarding the blog as well as on Twitter.

I do want to let you know how much I appreciate you folks that take the time to read The Crime Analyst’s Blog. Writing the blog, and interacting with you has been very enriching to me. I hope that in some way, you’ve gotten value from the blog.

Monday, April 22, 2013

So Just What Is A Good Neighborhood? And What Makes A Neighborhood Bad?

At the sleepy little burg where I work, I often get calls from people who are moving into the area and want to know "What's a good neighborhood?". I then inform them that I can't give them a subjective opinion about a neighborhood or characterize it as good or bad. 

I then explain to them that the opinions we form about a place are largely based on our personal experiences. That someone who grew up in a one stop-light town in Montana will make judgements about the safety of a neighborhood differently than someone who grew up in Camden, New Jersey. For me to give an opinion would be a losing proposition. I do point them to our online crime map where they can conduct a more objective analysis of the community.

There was a very interesting piece over at The Atlantic Cities that looks at Why People Perceive Some Cities as Safer Than Others. In the story was this bit:
Interestingly, while Gallup finds a substantial connection between crime and safety, the results of Mellander's analysis are mixed on this score. According to Gallup: "Though crime statistics are not available for all MSAs, there is a strong negative correlation (-.64) between the FBI's 2010 violent crime rate for an MSA and the percentage of the MSA residents who report feeling safe -- with the cities where residents feeling safest having lower crime rates, and vice versa." Mellander's analysis picks up a similar negative correlation (-.63) between perceptions of safety and gun murders (homicide only, not including suicide) per capita. But she finds no statistically significant association between perceived safety and a range of crime per capita measures based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, including for violent crime and property crime.
Via The Atlantic Cities

So maybe it's not just crime statistics that affect our perceptions of the safety of our communities. In fact, the article points to the study's conclusions of what makes a community feel safe. Hit the link to read the whole story.

Monday, April 15, 2013

POP Guide #4: The Problem of Drug Dealing in Privately Owned Apartment Complexes

In this week's look at the Problem Oriented Policing Center's excellent POP Guide series we're going to look at the fourth guidebook in the series The Problem of Drug Dealing in Privately Owned Apartment Complexes
To the public the idea of drug dealing at apartment complexes is sometimes thought of as an urban problem. However, regardless of whether your jurisdiction is in a large urban city, or a small town, you've probably at one time or another seen this problem crop up.

With illicit drug markets often come other, related criminal activity and blight. It's also surprising just how quickly this problem gets going. This POP Guide has this warning we need to pay attention to.
Because a drug market can become entrenched fairly quickly, budding drug markets should not be ignored. Early intervention makes good use of scarce police resources since entrenched drug markets are fertile ground for other criminal activity.
An unchecked drug market can become a crime generator that drags an entire neighborhood down with it. Inattention to an open air drug market at an apartment complex causes those law abiding residents to move away, creating a void that is often filled with less desirable tenants who further exacerbate the problems that allowed the initial problem to gain a foothold.

One of the major reasons that these open air drug markets start is due to lax or absentee owners and managers. They are also the key to removing the conditions that allow these problems to fester. Some of the most effective strategies are encourage, cajole or even coerce apartment management and owners to take an interest in ensuring their properties don't become a blight on the community.

This POP Guide has an extensive list of strategies that can be used to combat this problem as well as links to other helpful resources.

Don't forget, these POP Guides can be viewed on the Problem Oriented Policing Center website, downloaded for free in various formats, as a PDF or an Ebook or you can even order a bound paper copy.

Monday, April 8, 2013

POP Guide #3 The Problem With Speeding In Residential Areas

A few weeks ago I started highlighting resources from the Problem Oriented Policing Center's excellent POP Guide Series after my usual blog post on some news story on crime, law enforcement or crime analysis. I am enjoying posting about these POP Guides so much I am going to forgo the crime story to jump right into the section on the POP Guides. If you can't tell, I really like their POP Guides. For a working crime analyst, they provide a nice concise discussion of various crime problems and strategies to deal with them.

This Week’s Crime Analyst Resource

In this week’s look at the Problem Oriented Policing Center’s excellent POP Guide series we’re going to look at the third guidebook in the series The Problem of Speeding in Residential Areas.

At the agency where I work, the crime analysis unit is the clearinghouse for many of the complaints that come into the department. One of the top complaints that come into my office deals with speeding or other traffic violations.

This POP Guide looks at a number of strategies that can be used to tackle this problem including the obvious: speeding tickets as well as the less obvious such as traffic calming through roadway engineering.

There was a great paragraph in this POP Guide that has an application beyond just dealing with speeding drivers, in fact we’d be smart to heed this advice when dealing with any crime problem.

Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: carefully consider whether others in your community share responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it. The responsibility of responding, in some cases, may need to be shifted toward those who have the capacity to implement more-effective responses.

It’s important to remember that the Problem Analysis Triangle consists of three sides and if we remove any of those sides, the crime will not occur. If solving a crime problem isn’t the direct result of a traditional law enforcement response such as an arrest, does it really matter as long as the problem is solved? We should always look to the easiest and most effective response.

Don't forget, these POP Guides can be viewed on the Problem Oriented Policing Center website, downloaded for free in various formats, as a PDF or an Ebook or you can even order a bound paper copy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Law Of Unindented Consequences Of A Law’s Unintended Consequences

There was a really good piece over at The Atlantic Cities recently that looked at the efficacy of various laws aimed at texting and driving. The piece examined a study of these laws and whether or not traffic accidents were reduced by them. The story had this interesting bit:

One study to look at texting bans in four states, back in 2010, actually found that accidents increased in those states, compared to neighboring states without the bans — perhaps because drivers tried to hide their phones while texting, making the act even more dangerous.

Via The Atlantic Cities

The piece went on to look at how effective these laws were by the way they were written, such as whether their were exceptions written in the laws that made them difficult for police to enforce.

It’s not enough to have a law regulating certain types of dangerous behavior. Those laws must be well written so that we don’t end up with a scenario that a poorly written law actually makes things worse.

This is probably a prescient sentiment given the Texas Legislature is busy preparing all those bills they will try to turn into laws in this legislative session.

This Week’s Crime Analyst Resource

This week we’re looking at the second in the series of Problem Oriented Policing Center POP Guides The Problem of Street Prostitution.

There are very few crimes that can be more problematic than street prostitution. One of the reasons for this is that street prostitution is almost never found without street level narcotics. Additionally, the street prostitution trade will often bring other types of crime such as robbery, theft and assaults.

Because this crime is very visible, police departments will often get significant community pressure to do something about “the hooker standing on the corner”. However, because in most instances, prostitution is not considered a serious offense, it is often a misdemeanor offense with very little jail time.

Police can arrest prostitutes and often see these persons back on the streets within days. It can be very resource intensive to tie up 5 to 10 officers to make a handful of misdemeanor arrests. It gets even more problematic if these arrests provide very little deterrent for prostitutes.

This POP Guide can help provide some insights that will help you to develop an effective strategy. For instance this POP Guide has this bit worthy of note:

Clients are more easily deterred than prostitutes. They are more readily ashamed of their behavior, and fear harming their public reputation or their standing in their personal lives. Consequently, they fear being identified publicly more than being fined for their conduct.

Armed with this knowledge, an effective strategy may be to “poison the well” by increasing the perception to prostitution customers that the police are watching and will enforce the laws to the customer’s detriment including publicizing these arrests.

If your department deals with street prostitution, this POP Guide is worth reading.