Use of Computerized Crime Mapping by Law Enforcement in the United States, 1997-1998 (ICPSR 2878)

Published: Apr 18, 2008

Principal Investigator(s):
Cynthia A. Mamalian, United States Department of Justice. National Institute of Justice. Crime Mapping Research Center; Nancy G. LaVigne, United States Department of Justice. National Institute of Justice. Crime Mapping Research Center; Elizabeth Groff, United States Department of Justice. National Institute of Justice. Crime Mapping Research Center

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02878.v3

Version V3

As a first step in understanding law enforcement agencies' use and knowledge of crime mapping, the Crime Mapping Research Center (CMRC) of the National Institute of Justice conducted a nationwide survey to determine which agencies were using geographic information systems (GIS), how they were using them, and, among agencies that were not using GIS, the reasons for that choice. Data were gathered using a survey instrument developed by National Institute of Justice staff, reviewed by practitioners and researchers with crime mapping knowledge, and approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The survey was mailed in March 1997 to a sample of law enforcement agencies in the United States. Surveys were accepted until May 1, 1998. Questions asked of all respondents included type of agency, population of community, number of personnel, types of crimes for which the agency kept incident-based records, types of crime analyses conducted, and whether the agency performed computerized crime mapping. Those agencies that reported using computerized crime mapping were asked which staff conducted the mapping, types of training their staff received in mapping, types of software and computers used, whether the agency used a global positioning system, types of data geocoded and mapped, types of spatial analyses performed and how often, use of hot spot analyses, how mapping results were used, how maps were maintained, whether the department kept an archive of geocoded data, what external data sources were used, whether the agency collaborated with other departments, what types of Department of Justice training would benefit the agency, what problems the agency had encountered in implementing mapping, and which external sources had funded crime mapping at the agency. Departments that reported no use of computerized crime mapping were asked why that was the case, whether they used electronic crime data, what types of software they used, and what types of Department of Justice training would benefit their agencies.

Mamalian, Cynthia A., LaVigne, Nancy G., and Groff, Elizabeth. Use of Computerized Crime Mapping by Law Enforcement in the United States, 1997-1998. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-04-18. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02878.v3

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice

A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

1997 -- 1998

1997-03 -- 1998-05

Computerized crime mapping technology enables law enforcement agencies to analyze and correlate data sources to create a detailed snapshot of crime incidents and related factors within a community or other geographic area. In particular, it enables agencies to target resources for more effective crime control strategies, identify likely suspects, evaluate the results of interventions, and more efficiently and effectively allocate officers to geographic areas in which they are needed. While interest in this technology within the law enforcement community appears to be growing, until recently little data existed on how widely computerized crime mapping was used, in what capacity, and what influenced an agency's implementation of a geographic information system (GIS). As a first step in understanding law enforcement agencies' use and knowledge of crime mapping, the Crime Mapping Research Center of the National Institute of Justice conducted a nationwide crime mapping survey to determine which agencies were using GIS, how they were using it, and, among agencies that were not using GIS, the reasons for that choice.

The survey instrument was developed by National Institute of Justice staff, reviewed by practitioners and researchers with crime mapping knowledge, and cleared by the Office of Management and Budget. All agencies with 50 or more sworn officers were contacted by telephone to obtain the name of the crime analyst or other appropriate person to whom the survey should be addressed. All other surveys were sent to the attention of the agency chief. The survey was mailed in March 1997 to a sample of law enforcement agencies in the United States. Agencies that did not respond to the first mailing were sent a second survey. Surveys were accepted until May 1, 1998. It took responding agencies an estimated average of 33 minutes to answer the survey, including time to review instructions, gather needed data, and complete and review the collection of information.

Stratified random sampling.

All law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Law enforcement agencies.

mailback questionnaires

survey data

Questions asked of all respondents included type of agency, population of community, number of personnel, types of crimes for which the agency kept incident-based records, types of crime analyses conducted, and whether the agency performed computerized crime mapping. Those agencies that reported using computerized crime mapping were asked which staff conducted the mapping, types of training their staff received in mapping, types of software and computers used, whether the agency used a global positioning system, types of data geocoded and mapped, types of spatial analyses performed and how often, use of hot spot analyses, how mapping results were used, how maps were maintained, whether the department kept an archive of geocoded data, what external data sources were used, whether the agency collaborated with other departments, what types of Department of Justice training would benefit the agency, what problems the agency had encountered in implementing mapping, and which external sources had funded crime mapping at the agency. Departments that reported no use of computerized crime mapping were asked why that was the case, whether they used electronic crime data, what types of software they used, and what types of Department of Justice training would benefit their agencies.

The response rate after two mailings was 72 percent.

Several Likert-type scales were used.

2001-02-16

2008-04-18

2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

2001-02-16 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

2006-09-21 A restricted version of the data was created to include the variable ORI. The public release version was updated with the new LRECL, with the variable ORI included, but masked.

2008-04-18 The variable ORI was updated with data that had previously been labeled as missing. These updated data were obtained from hard copies of the original survey forms.

Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

NACJD logo

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.