Crime Map Tutorial

About the CrimeMapTutorial

CrimeMapTutorial© is a step-by-step tutorial for learning how to do crime mapping using ArcView GISTM or MapInfo ProfessionalTM GIS. Users will get a thorough introduction to most of the knowledge and skills needed to produce daily maps and spatial data queries that uniformed officers and detectives find valuable for crime prevention and enforcement. Users will utilize GIS and police data supplied by the Rochester, NY Police Department.

CrimeMapTutorial can be used for self-learning. Alternatively, instructors can use CrimeMapTutorial in a lab setting by giving short introductory lectures and then letting students work at their own pace, with instructors answering questions.

The package has three tutorials taking approximately six hours to complete in total, including exercises. The best order for learning the material is sequential, but users can do just the tutorial or tutorials of interest in any order.

  • Tutorial 1 is for GIS Users - To learn how to use a crime mapping GIS, work through the first part of Tutorial 1 (about 20 pages). Tutorial 1 uses the map layers and crime maps created in Tutorials 2 and 3. In addition, the last part of Tutorial 1 teaches how to make maps and data queries using modus operandi, suspect, and other data.

  • Tutorial 2 is for Data Preparers - To process police data for use in a GIS, work through all of Tutorial 2. This work includes address matching police incidents to place them on pin maps, and aggregating crime counts by areas (like car beats) to produce area or choropleth maps.

  • Tutorial 3 is for Map Makers - To construct useful crime maps, given police data that have already been address matched and preprocessed by data preparers, work through Tutorial 3. These maps include an early warning choropleth map showing areas that are heating up or cooling off (early warning system) with drill downs to pin maps that have size-graduated point markers to show multiple incidents at the same address, and further drill down to individual data records for points including modus operandi and physical description data for suspects and victims. Also included are maps for use by uniformed officers for distribution at roll call that have a four week window of serious crimes with crimes from the most recent three days highlighted with large-size point markers.

Users will need to purchase and install ArcView GIS Version 3.x or MapInfo Professional 5.5 or higher, if one of those packages is not already on their PC.

  • The PC version of ArcView 3.x requires that you run Microsoft Windows ® 95, 98, Windows NT, or Windows 2000 as your operating system and have at least 16 MB RAM, 57 MB disk space for full installation, or 24MB for compact installation. See the ESRI website for more information.

  • The PC version of MapInfo 5.5 requires that users run Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 2000 as their operating system and have at least 32 MB RAM, 58 MB disk space for software installation. See the MapInfo website for more information.

The maps that are produced in a GIS are mostly made up of points, lines, and polygons (boundaries for closed areas formed by connect-the-dots lines) - that's why these elements were included in the logo.

  • Blue letters were chosen to represent police.

  • Bright colors and simple shapes should be used for point markers ("pins") locating individual crimes, so the dot for the letter "i" in "Crime" is a bright red circle.

  • Features used to establish spatial context, like streets, car beat boundaries and such should be a background color, like the light gray used in the logo.

  • Lastly, monochromatic color scales, like the increasingly dark shades of green in the logo, represent increasing values of a variable, like the number of burglaries per car beat.


The authors are grateful to Dr. Nancy La Vigne, former Director of the Crime Mapping Research Center. She recognized the need for GIS training materials explicitly designed for law enforcement, and funded CrimeMapTutorial. Thanks also go to Chief Robert Duffy, Captain Bruce Philpott, Lt. Joe Sturnick, Lt. Michael Wood, Sgt. Tony DeBellis, Sgt. Glenn Hoff, Officer Jim Lanzillo, Jeff Cheal, and Dave Larrabee of the Rochester Police Department, and Carol Schmitt and Andy Roberts of the Rochester Bureau of Data Processing for providing police data and many ideas on crime mapping used in this tutorial. Commander Kathy McNeilly, Commander Bill Valenta, Officer Darlene Stevens, Officer Deborah Gilkey, and Officer Maureen Noszka of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and John Staudacher, John Schultie, and Eric Miazga of Pittsburgh City Information Systems provided additional valuable crime mapping ideas. Lastly, the authors are grateful to Geographic Data Technology Inc. for contributing its Dynamap/2000 street centerline map for Rochester, New York.

Copyright Information

CrimeMapTutorial is copyrighted by and the property of Wilpen L. Gorr of Carnegie Mellon University. It is intended for use by law enforcement officers and staff, and educators. It can be distributed freely for use in law enforcement or related agencies and for educational purposes, but cannot be re-sold. Ed Wells, of GeoStrategic Solutions (412.761.2846), is co-author of the MapInfo version of CrimeMapTutorial.

Contact Information

Technical questions related to CrimeMapTutorial may be directed to:

Wil Gorr

Description of Files

There are separate versions of CrimeMapTutorial for ArcView and MapInfo. For either version, users need to download the tutorial workbook and a folder of data and map files. Instructions include:

  • Download the CrimeMapTutorial PDF files, one for each chapter (1 through 3), open them in Adobe Acrobat, and print them in portrait page orientation.

  • Photocopy the printed CrimeMapTutorial on both sides of sheets (duplex) so that instructions (steps) are on left pages and screen prints are on right facing pages when the copied tutorial is opened like a book. The screen prints and annotations replace us standing there by your computer and pointing to your screen when you are stuck.

  • Download the CrimeMapTutorialData folder (ArcView or MapInfo version), which is in a single zipped file. Once the downloaded file is on your computer, double-click on the zipped file to activate the decompression software on your machine, such as WinZip® or PKZip®. Then choose the option to Extract the files onto your hard drive. Within the Extract dialog box, check the options to extract all files and to retain the original file structure and folder names. When choosing the directory to which you will extract the files, it is very important to select the C:\ drive. This extraction process will then create a folder called C:\CrimeMapTutorial. It requires 11 MB of disk space for ArcView and 18 MB for MapInfo. After unzipping the file, you will have the following subfolders and files:

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\DataIncident - offense data from the Rochester, NY Police Department

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\DataIntermediateTables - a place to put tables needed to accomplish something, but not end products

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\DataSeries - an empty folder used for files on time series trends

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\Documentation - this folder is empty or has minimal files, including background material on map data sources, code tables, etc.

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\FinishedProducts - finished files for all that you will build in this tutorial. These files allow you to skip sections and jump to advanced material. They also allow you to proceed if you were unsuccessful in some step. There are no answer files, however, for practice exercises because the answers are generally needed to complete subsequent tutorial steps.

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\MapsBase - all input maps for this tutorial. These are all commercially available maps, or easily constructed, and include car beats, census tracts, 2,000 foot square grid cells, retail stores points from an electronic yellow pages, and street centerlines for plotting police incidents.

    • C:\CrimeMapTutorial\MapsIncident - police incident maps that you will create in Tutorial 2.

Files to Download

***  Please complete a brief User Survey before downloading CrimeMapTutorial for the first time. The information will be sent to the authors and the MAPS Program to improve this tutorial and identify other crime mapping training needs.

ArcView Version

CrimeMapTutorial PDF Files (Chapters 1-3)

CrimeMapTutorial Data File (compressed file)

MapInfo Version

CrimeMapTutorial PDF Files (Chapters 1-3)

CrimeMapTutorial Data File (compressed file)

Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety Program

The Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety Program (formerly the Crime Mapping Research Center) at the National Institute of Justice was established in 1997. The goal of the program is the promotion, research, evaluation, development, and dissemination of GIS (geographic information systems) technology for the spatial analysis of crime and criminal behavior.