DECEMBER 11, 1998

10:00 a.m.

Thanks, Ray, Jeremy, everybody. I am so impressed with the vast numbers of you here from all over the country and the world who are clearly interested in the topic of crime mapping. What only a few years ago was a tool used by just a handful of law enforcement agencies and researchers has grown in use exponentially, and that is obvious from those of you in this room.

I want to credit you for the important work you do. Your work has supported the development of crime control and prevention strategies resulting in significant reductions in crime. And I can't emphasize that enough­many of you are crime analysts, and your police executives rely heavily on what you do to deploy officers and to direct prevention and enforcement strategies. You are the unsung heroes of crime control efforts everywhere, and I salute your efforts.

It is no surprise to me that the use of crime mapping has grown so significantly. I believe this growth is not simply because of more affordable hardware or more user-friendly software, although those factors have definitely played a role. Rather, I think an important explanation for the popularity of mapping is that law enforcement at all ranks and levels recognize the value of spatial information as a tool to drive decision making.

Now we all know that police have been mapping crimes for years in the form of pushpins in paper maps, so why all the attention on computer mapping technology? Well, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Society is always taken by surprise by a new example of common sense." And crime mapping is a prime example of common sense: of course we want to know where our crimes are, and what better way than to map them?

Why does it make sense to map crime? Our goals are to reduce and prevent crime, to reduce suffering by victims, to punish the guilty, and to direct our limited resources where they can do the most good. Mapping helps us achieve these goals. Mapping enables us to identify crime-ridden areas to not only direct resources, but ultimately to reduce crime and prevent new crimes from occurring. Mapping is also used to support investigations to apprehend suspects so that they are unable to cause additional harm to future crime victims. And mapping is used to support prosecution efforts by demonstrating defendants' movements and activities leading up to and following their criminal acts.

We know instinctively that mapping is a powerful crime-fighting tool, but as many of you researchers out there realize, it is difficult to identify a direct causal relationship between crime mapping technology and a significant reduction in crime. However, I believe it is possible to identify examples of how mapping has been used to locate suspects and apprehend offenders, improve police resources to reduce crime, and develop successful crime prevention strategies. That is why NIJ partnered with the Police Executive Research Forum to publish Crime Mapping Case Studies: Successes in the Field, a compilation of real-life stories submitted by practitioners. I am pleased to announce the release of this volume today.

Several of the case studies illustrate how mapping supports community policing and problem solving. One case study from Shreveport, Louisiana, demonstrates how crime analysts used mapping to address a rash of residential burglaries. They mapped burglaries by time of day and learned that the burglaries were primarily occurring during the daytime, in close proximity to a local high school. The police contacted the school's officials and learned that the school was experiencing a serious truancy problem. This spatial analysis led to the identification and prevention of the true underlying cause of the residential burglary problem: truancy. Police worked with school officials to combat the truancy problem and significantly reduced burglaries in that area.

In Overland Park, Kansas, mapping was used to identify an increase in the number of thefts from residential garages. The police units came together in a consolidated effort to combat the problem. Using maps to track where incidents were occurring, the units coordinated efforts with the community to encourage residents to close garage doors and take other preventive measures. This classic community policing effort resulted in the drastic reduction of garage thefts.

The power of mapping is not limited to analyzing and preventing property crimes. In a recent murder trial in Hillsborough County, Florida, prosecutors used cellular telephone records from suspects in relation to verified locations of cellular telephone towers. These records were used to demonstrate the association among the victim, suspects, witnesses, evidence, and crime scene. The prosecutor's case was enhanced through maps that reconstructed the suspects' temporal and spatial activities based on this cellular phone activity, and those maps played a vital role in obtaining a conviction.

I've highlighted just a few of the 15 crime mapping case studies that appear in the book, and I encourage you all to learn from these examples, which truly are "successes from the field."

Many of these case studies highlight something I believe is important to remember, which is that the term "crime mapping" should be interpreted very broadly­analysts are mapping far more than crime data, including public health, sanitation, school data, and other social and economic indicators to gain a full picture of the nature of crime and disorder problems. These comprehensive mapping efforts serve the dual purpose of gaining a better understanding of crime problems and enlisting the support of all the criminal justice, social service, health and public welfare stakeholders to work together to combat public safety problems.

The Department of Justice has launched the Strategic Approaches to Community Safety Initiative, which I believe drives this point home. This two-year initiative is being implemented in five U.S. cities to empower criminal justice practitioners and the community to take a data-driven, problem solving approach to public safety problems in their jurisdictions. There are two key components of the Strategic Approaches Initiative: the first is to build collaboration across criminal justice and other social service agencies; and the second is the analysis of the nature of crime problems through the use of a comprehensive criminal justice Geographic Information System. It is my hope that this Initiative will provide further examples of the successes in the use of information technology to prevent and reduce crime.

I envision a time when every law enforcement agency in the country has the technology and the know-how to make use of computerized mapping to support prevention and enforcement efforts. We have so many excellent examples of crime mapping here at this conference, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels, which is why I'm so pleased that Ray and Jeremy are working with the Vice President's office on the Crime Mapping Task Force. We need to continue our efforts to collect and analyze data geographically, and especially across jurisdictional boundaries. This is a very important effort if we are to truly discern spatial patterns of crime, especially for "mobile" crimes such as auto thefts and recoveries, or gang-related crimes when turf becomes an issue. I noticed that there are representatives here from Orange County and the Baltimore-Washington area who are sharing their knowledge on why cross-jurisdictional analysis is valuable and how such partnerships can be established. They offer a great resource to conference participants.

So much of this conference is about sharing knowledge, so I credit you for being here teaching one another and learning more about how to use this powerful technological tool to fight crime in our country. Crime mapping is still new, and you are the crusaders in this area. Thank you for leading the way.