Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as an Administrative Tool for Police Agencies

Cedrick G. Heraux, Michigan State University
Christopher D. Maxwell, Michigan State University

In recent years, criminologists and police practitioners alike have turned to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to identify crime patterns using various methods such as hot spots analysis. However, there has been relatively little focus on the utility of GIS for police administrators. What research exists on this topic has examined citizen complaints as a method of identifying problematic officers. The current research seeks to extend this idea by using GIS to examine incident and arrest data. Their usefulness will be demonstrated through analysis using ArcView and CrimeStat software to identify neighborhoods with problems of particular concern to police administrators. By aggregating these problems to the neighborhood level, we will be able to identify areas that are particularly in need of community policing programs or other targeted police-community relations efforts. Specifically, crimes that are related to problems with police authority (i.e. fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest, obstructing an officer) will be highlighted to underscore how police managers can identify problematic areas in the hopes that policies can be revised to address these problems.

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Updated 05/20/2006