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Q: Police Patrolling Strategies to Deal with Crime Hot Spots ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Police Patrolling Strategies to Deal with Crime Hot Spots
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: jolk-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 23 Sep 2006 07:13 PDT
Expires: 23 Oct 2006 07:13 PDT
Question ID: 767806
I would like to understand how police forces - primarily in the US -
have been defining crime "hot spots" (i.e., what kinds of
data/criteria they have been using), and what patrolling strategies
they have used to target them. I am
particularly interested in understanding strategies to respond to "hot
spots" quickly or in real-time - and if there are not such strategies,
I am interested to understand what kinds of constraints (e.g.,
technology, communication between officers) have prevented
them. The ideal answer would provide some synthesis of the sources, as
well as links to the best articles and links. Will offer up to $100
tip for good answer, where good looks like more synthesis so I can
just use the information (vs. read all the relevant articles). Please
let me know if I can clarify. Would like some movement on an answer this week.
Subject: Re: Police Patrolling Strategies to Deal with Crime Hot Spots
Answered By: umiat-ga on 24 Sep 2006 10:00 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello, jolk-ga!

 I have culled excerpts from some excellent articles to form a general
overview or "synthesis" of hot spots and police response as you have
requested. I have attempted to cover this subject as comprehensively
as I can an still make this "readable" for you.

 Please keep in mind that GA researchers are not to write essay
material that can potentially be construed as homework. Therefore, if
you need to organize this material into a written format of your own,
I have provided numbered footnotes at the end of each excerpt for your
reference. I encourage you to read each article - especially "Mapping
Crime: Understanding Hot Spots." (1)  My short synthesis could never
capture all of the excellent information contained in this one report



"Though no common definition of the term hot spot of crime exists, the
common understanding is that a hot spot is an area that has a greater
than average number of criminal or disorder events, or an area where
people have a higher than average risk of victimization. This suggests
the existence of cool spots - places or areas with less than the
average amount of crime or disorder. It also suggests that some hot
spots may be hotter than others; that is, they vary in how far above
average they are." (Ref 1)

"Researchers and police use the term in many different ways. Some
refer to hot spot addresses --  others refer to hot spot blocks -- and
others examine clusters of blocks. Like researchers, crime analysts
look for concentrations of individual events that might indicate a
series of related crimes. They also look at small areas that have a
great deal of crime or disorder, even though there may be no common
offender. Analysts also observe neighborhoods and neighborhood
clusters with high crime and disorder levels and try to
link these to underlying social conditions." (Ref. 1)


Repeat places hot spots  

"The most basic form of a hot spot is a place that has many crimes. A place can
be an address, street corner, store, house, or any other small
location, most of which can be seen by a person standing at its
center. Places typically have a single owner and a specific function -
residence, retail sales, recreation, school. Crime often is
concentrated at a few places, even in high-crime areas. Although hot
places often are concentrated within areas, they often are separated
by other places with few or no crimes."
(Ref 1)

Repeat victimization hot spots
"Repeat victimization refers to the multiple attacks on the same
individual, regardless of location. It often is confused with repeat
crime places. A repeat place might have a number of different victims.
Clearly one can have both repeat victimization and repeat crime
places. For example, a person could frequent a bar where he is
assaulted on a number of different occasions. But if repeat
victimization is distributed over many locations (as would occur if
repeat victims are assaulted at different bars, but never the same bar
twice), it will not show up on a map as a hot spot place." (Ref 1)

Repeat streets hot spots

"Repeat streets are those thoroughfares or streets with a high degree
of victimization......Offenders find targets while going about their
normal legitimate business - going to and from work, recreation,
shopping, school, and other nodes of activity. Potential targets that
are not along the routes or near nodes used by offenders will unlikely
be victimized, but those close to offenders? routes and nodes have
elevated risks of victimization." (Ref. 1)

"Since major thoroughfares concentrate people (including offenders),
targets situated along thoroughfares face higher crime risks than
targets on side streets far from thoroughfares. Further, some types of
targets concentrate along major streets. Convenience stores, fast food
stores, gas stations, and other retail places are sited along major
thoroughfares because that is where their customers concentrate."

Neighborhood hot spots

More has been written about neighborhood concentrations of crime (hot
spots) than about any other form of concentration of crime. In their
pathbreaking book Social Factors in Juvenile Delinquency (1931), Shaw
and McKay noted persistent concentrations of deviancy in the 1920s.
They noted that some neighborhoods had high levels of juvenile
delinquency, year in and year out, decade after decade, regardless of
who lived in the areas (Shaw and McKay, 1969). Since that time, many
explanations for differences in neighborhood crime levels have
surfaced. Most of these theories focus on the ability of local
residents to control deviancy (Bursik and Grasmick, 1993). (Ref. 1)


Police departments can deliniate hot spots through sophisticated
mapping programs or a simple technique of astute observation.

"Some of the most helpful maps for those persons who patrol and
investigate crimes simply indicate where incidents have occurred.
Prior to recent technological advances, police typically placed
pushpins in wall maps to examine the spatial distribution of crime
locations. Modern geographic information system (GIS) software,
however, allows police to produce more versatile electronic maps by
combining their databases of reported crime locations with digitized
maps of the areas they serve."

"Today, police departments frequently use computer-mapped crime
locations to delineate hot spots, or areas with high concentrations of
crime. Highlighting such areas helps police direct patrols where they
are most needed, thereby optimizing the deterrent effect of police
presence. Although concentrations of crime locations may be
discernible on a relatively simple point-map of crime locations,
multiple crimes occurring at a single address may deceivingly be
represented by a single point on such a map. Hot spot analysis is
frequently performed using special software, such as the Spatial and
Temporal Analysis of Crime (STAC) program developed by the Illinois
Criminal Justice Information Authority, which draws ellipses based on
the densest concentrations of mapped incidents." (Ref 3)


"Boston Police officials have recently declared two new areas in
Dorchester "hot spots"....The district names an area a hot spot after
they see a pattern of crime developing there that seems more active
than normal. Much of the data that determines hot spots comes from the
Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) a BPD agency that pours
over statistics and incidents and finds recurring themes, and then
alerts their districts."

"Gaughan explained that hot spots are constantly changing locations,
partly because of the work the police do, and partly for reasons no
one can quite identify. But when the BRIC sends them a report -
usually consisting of a list of problems and a map detailing the areas
that they see- they try and alert their officers to keep an eye out
and be extra ready to answer calls for those locations." (Ref 14)


Several factors can contribute maximizing police patrol efficiency in
hot spot areas. First, police departments must have the extra time and
funding to implement methods and technologies to map and define hot
spots in their jurisdiction. Secondly, they must then have the
manpower to divert enough patrol officers to local hot spots once they
are identified. Newer technologies like video surveillance can be
employed to monitor activity in high crime areas. Forming a
relationship between local citizens and the police in hot spot areas
fosters a degree of trust that can help identify habitiual criminal

Increase Funding for technology

"The federal government should push crime fighting into the digital
age by providing national standards that support the deployment of
cutting-edge information and communication systems. Through the COPS
office, it should funnel seed money to state and local governments.
Rapidly collecting and disseminating good information about the people
who commit crime and the places where crime occurs is the key. Yet
most police, parole officers, and courts are operating with
20-year-old information technology. Even though high-speed digital
technology is already available, many cops must still wait 20 minutes
for basic information about a vehicle or person they've stopped
(digital technology can obtain and transmit a car's record in 10
seconds). Days or weeks can pass before criminal warrants find their
way into computers, leaving dangerous criminals on the street and
police unaware they are wanted. Judges sentence offenders without
seeing their criminal history records." (Ref. 2)

"Hit the bad guys where they work. Research on crime convincingly
demonstrates two central facts: that crime is highly concentrated in
geographic areas, with as much as 50 percent of offenses occurring at
just 3 percent of locations; and that a small subset of criminals is
responsible for a vastly disproportionate share of crime, with an
estimated 5 percent to 7 percent of offenders committing from 50
percent to 70 percent of total offenses. To take advantage of this
research, the Justice Department should establish a grant program to
support local efforts to target crime hot spots and high-risk
(Ref. 2)


Baltimore Police utilize grant money to create communication network:

"When the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) received the largest grant
in the agency's history to update its technology, the communications
division set out to create a mobile office for patrol cars."

"In 2001, the BPD received US$25.6 million, from the U.S. Department
of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) program, which
provides funds to police departments to update technology and hire
more officers.

Approximately US$1.5 million of the COPS grant was allocated for the
purchase of a mobile report writing system (MRWS) that would allow
officers to write, transmit, and file reports directly from patrol
cars. "We know from experience that a stronger police presence
translates to greater public confidence and better crime fighting,"
Meier explains. "Our goal was to keep officers on the street rather
than behind a desk writing reports."
(Ref 12)

Divert Officers to identified hot spots

An example from Indianapolis:

"During the mid-1990s, Indianapolis found itself in an unusual
situation. The local economy was strong and the city's downtown was
experiencing a vibrant renewal. But the city also was experiencing
record-setting levels of homicide at a time when homicide was
declining in many comparable cities. Local officials took several
steps to address homicide. For example, they used data to identify 
where and when homicides were occurring. To produce the data, the
Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) created the Indianapolis
Management Accountability Program, or IMAP, an adaptation of the New
York City Police Department's computer comparison statistics
(CompStat) program. 

"IPD then applied directed patrol tactics in two areas of the city
that had high concentrations of violent crime. Directed patrol
involves assigning officers to a particular area to proactively
investigate suspicious activities and enforce existing gun, drug,
traffic, and related laws."

* Officers assigned to directed patrol areas are freed from having to
respond to calls for service.

"The results of the Indianapolis directed patrol program are
consistent with a growing body of research that shows that when police
identify a specific problem and focus their attention on it, they can
reduce crime and violence." (Ref. 9)

Utlilizing the Latest Technology

Video Surveillance 

"Some police departments in the United States are beginning to
implement closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras that are
strategically positioned in public areas. This tool for crime
prevention, investigation, and evidence collection is used extensively
by law enforcement in Great Britain. The tasks of placing cameras
where they can be most helpful and then understanding the limits of
their use can be facilitated through the use of maps. (Ref. 3)


"While video policing--employing surveillance cameras in public
places--can be a helpful law enforcement tool, policies must be
enacted to stop abuse, Fresno, Calif., Police Chief Jerry Dyer
informed the City Council on Jan. 10. Dyer, who stated he was aware of
the controversial aspect of video policing, referred to the technology
as a "force multiplier" that permits police to be more effective,
serves as a crime deterrent and as an investigative tool. Surveillance
cameras have been utilized at several parks and shopping centers in
Fresno, as well as at numerous downtown locations. Dyer noted that
police in Los Angeles witnessed a 40 percent drop in crime after
cameras were erected. Council member Mike Dagas asked Dyer what would
keep a camera operator from moving a camera's focus from a street
downtown to an adjacent office. Dyer responded that technology can be
constructed into the system to stop abuse. For instance, he explained,
a camera directed away from its initial field could be programmed to
go black. Dyer also stressed that cameras would focus on streets, not
businesses. He said that video surveillance cameras now cost between
$5,000 and $8,000 each. (Ref 4)


"A drug deal is happening right now in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park,
and there are no cops around. But that hasn't been such a problem
since the Los Angeles Police Department installed 12 surveillance
cameras, said Sgt. Dan Gomez of the LAPD's Tactical Technology Unit,
Office of Operations. From a remote location, Gomez, an officer with
13 years' experience, watches the monitors: "All of a sudden, you see
a drug dealer going back and forth. [You can see] where he's hiding
his stash, where he's hiding his rocks of cocaine."

"In the past, you would never be able to see [all the details of a
crime] because you couldn't get close enough. Now I can see it," Gomez
said. When Gomez sees a crime going down, he calls in officers and
remotely guides them, step by step: "Hey, this individual just put
that in his right pocket. Oh, he just saw you; he's turning. I saw
him. He dropped it right by that bench."

Seeing more, and communicating better, is a result of the cameras.
According to Gomez, the impact on crime in MacArthur Park has been
astounding. Compared with crime data for 2002 in that area, 2004 saw a
45 percent decrease in crime.

Now the LAPD is testing a patrol car outfitted with $25,000 worth of
technology - including in-car video recording, facial-recognition
software and roof-mounted license-plate-recognition cameras

Handheld "hot-spot" mapping tools

"The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services has awarded the
Wise County and Norton Clerk of Court office a $66,500 grant to
continue advancing the use of Geographic Information System and Global
Positioning System in law enforcement. The grant will be used to
improve crime mapping applications for local law enforcement, ranging
from annual crime analysis "hot spots" to on-going criminal
"The collaboration between the clerk's office and local law
enforcement agencies has helped expand GIS technology into crime
analysis mapping and provided GPS handhelds to each Wise County and
Norton law enforcement agency. It also has provided GIS training to
law enforcement officers in partnership with Mountain Empire Community
College's Distance Education."

"Since the launch of crime mapping two years ago, the commonwealth
attorney's office has used GIS mapping to accurately depict distance
and location of crime scenes in criminal trials." (Ref. 6)

Gunshot recognition sound technology (SENTRI)

Both Chicago and Los Angeles are employing SENTRI technology: 

"The sound of gunshots in high-crime neighborhoods may or may not move
residents to call 911. In some neighborhoods, the sound of gunfire is
unfortunately part of the landscape, and when they do call, residents
can't always be sure where the sound came from. So what if the gunshot
automatically triggered a 911 call, and captured video of the shooter?
Police in Chicago are hoping to curb gun violence with technology that
does just that."

The technology -- Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and
Identification (SENTRI) -- recognizes the sound of a gunshot within a
two-block radius, pinpoints the location of the shot with a
surveillance camera, focuses on the location, and in less than 1
second, places a 911 call. The goal is to use the devices to prevent
homicides in areas known for gang activity and gun violence.

"Chicago successfully deployed 53 surveillance cameras over the years,
and has deployed the gunshot-recognition technology in about one-third
of those. The cameras, by themselves, were credited with reducing the
city's 2004 crime rate to its lowest level since 1965 -- sexual
assault is down 5 percent from the previous year, robbery is down 8
percent, aggravated assault is down 5 percent, and total violent crime
is down 7 percent -- and it is hoped the SENTRI system will provide
even more ammunition against crime."

"The goal is to integrate our surveillance with this gunshot
technology and to be able to send these gunshot alerts to our crime
detection specialists that work in our observation center [located in
the 911 center] every time we receive an alert," said Chicago Police
Sgt. Greg Hoffman. "The camera will point in the direction of that
gunshot [and] report immediately; the officers here in the detection
center will have the ability to communicate to first responders about
actionable intelligence about what they see." (Ref 7)

CompStat technology 

"CompStat, short for "computer statistics" or "comparison statistics,"
is a multifaceted system for managing police operations with a proven
track record in several major metropolitan police departments tracing
its roots back to 1994 in the New York City Police Department (NYPD."

"In today's environment of ever shrinking resources, being able to
apply the necessary resources to an identified problem area is crucial
in successfully reducing crime. Historically, marked police vehicles
have been randomly deployed in the belief that potential criminals
would be deterred by seeing the police vehicles on patrol. CompStat
provides information and intelligence to direct police resources to
the exact problem area - be it a crime hot spot or a developing crime
pattern. In Los Angeles, police have found that the accuracy of the
information is proportionate to the effectiveness of the police

"For decades, police departments have been driven by calls for service
and responded with limited resources in a reactive manner. With
Compstat, the police department is now armed with vital information
regarding emerging crime trends or patterns that allow for a proactive
strategic police response. Once a tactical plan is developed it is
necessary to organize and put into operation an assortment of
personnel and resources. By being able to quickly organize and deploy
resources in the field in a timely manner, the department is able to
control the crime problem before it becomes a crisis.

"Police can respond to problems using many forms, including
traditional uniformed or plainclothes officer response as well as
nontraditional stings and decoys. By breaking down the barriers among
the operating units, a new spirit of cooperation and working together
materializes and enables the rapid deployment of resources. While many
of the operational plans are conceived during the CompStat meetings,
and an overall strategy guidance flows down to the districts, many of
tactics and strategies actually flow up from the rank and file and
supervisors. This enables replication of successful strategies and
tactics citywide, and the line officer buy-in is quicker when they
know an operational unit designed the strategy." (Ref 13)

Foster Community Involvement to help Police identify Offenders 

Bike patrols, websites, and hotlines help to draw in the community:

"Police in Jersey City identified 56 drug-related hot spots using
narcotic sales arrests, drug-related emergency calls and information
from a narcotics tip line over a six-month period. These 56 spots
accounted for 45 percent of narcotic sales arrests and 46 percent of
emergency calls for service even though they made up only 4.4 percent
of the city?s streets and intersections. In an experiment, they
targeted 28 of the hot spots for intensive enforcement.

"Police officers met with business owners and residents to gather
information on suspected drug offenders. They then used intensive
crackdowns involving other agencies, such as housing and beverage
licensing, which used their powers to issue violations to close down
drug activity. The effort led to a significant drop in emergency calls
for service in and around the hot spots." (Ref. 8)


In Oakland, police fostered community involvement by "meeting with
neighbors more often to discuss solutions and establishing a Web site
and hotline to increase communication between police and residents."
(Ref 10)


In Maryland, bike patrols bring officers and residents closer together:

"The incorporation of the bike patrol into the community-policing
avenue of the jurisdiction opened a floodgate of information. The
patrol officers were able to become intimately familiar with their
communities. They quickly learned who lives, works, and plays in the
troubled spots of the township and county. They began to be more
successful at reaching out to the youth in the neighborhoods. The
bikes allowed them cross previously insurmountable barriers." (Ref 11)


 1. "Mapping Crime: Understanding Hot Spots." National Institute Of Justice

 2. "Crime Story: The Digital Age - Harnessing New Technologies to
Community Policing," By John D. Cohen. Blueprint Magazine, February 7,

 3. "What is Crime Mapping? - Briefing Book." National Institute of Justice.

 4. "Cameras Keep Eye on Crime," BY Jim Guy.Fresno Bee. 1/2006

5. "LAPD Systems Keep an Eye on Crime," By David Spark. EWeek. January 2, 2006,1895,1906422,00.asp 

 6. "Clerk of Court grant award expands crime mapping effort." January 05, 2006

 7. "Triggered Response," by Jim McKay. Government Technology. Dec. 2005.

 8. "Defining the Problem - Using Data to Plan a Community Justice
Project." Written by Robert V. Wolf. Center for Court Innovation. 1999

 9. "Reducing Gun Violence: Evaluation of the Indianapolis Police
Department's Directed Patrol Project." National Institute of Justice,
November 2002

10. "Border Shootings Alarm Neighbors," By ANGELA ROWEN

11. "State Police Agency Uses Bikes to Develop a Citizen-Police
Partnership," by Christopher Davala, Maryland State Police

12. "Cisco Wireless Network Helps Baltimore Police Department Secure City."

13. "CompStat in the Los Angeles Police Department." Police Chief.

14. "Police track shifts in crime 'hot spots'," by David Benoit.
Dorchester News. Aug. 2005 


 "Directed patrols are precision tools that focus patrol resources on
the times and places with the highest risk of serious crime (i.e., hot
spots). Rather than simply providing high police visibility, directed
patrol concentrates police visibility where the crime is. The theory
behind directed patrols suggest that the more police presence there is
in hot spots the less likely crime will occur because it increases the
threat of detection and punishment for criminal activity. In fact,
evaluation findings suggest that police can reduce, or at least,
displace, crime using directed patrols (Sherman and Weisbrud, 1992;
McGarrell, Chermak and Weiss, 2002)."

"For example, the Minneapolis Hot Spots Patrol Experiment provided 3
hours a day of intermittent, unpredictable police presence to 55
randomly selected hot-spot intersections in the city. Another 55 hot
spots received the normal patrol coverage. The results indicate that
while the impact on all reported crime was small, it was statistically
significant at 13 percent and even greater for more serious crimes.

 "Further analysis indicates that the frequent rotation of the hot
spot patrols, rather than long spells of patrol at one hot spot was
more effective (Koper, 1992). The analysis showed that the longer the
police stayed at one hot spot the lower the crime rate would dip - up
to a point. More than 10 minutes of police presence in one hot spot
produced diminishing returns. As a result. "the optimal way to use
police visibility may be to have police travel from hot spot to hot
spot, staying about ten minutes at each one" (Sherman, 1995).

From "Community and Problem-Oriented Policing." OJJDP Model Programs Guide.


 I hope the information I have provided is helpful and conveys a
general overview of the current situation pertaining to criminal hot
spot mapping and police response!



Search Strategy

Hot Spots
defining criminal hot spots
Hot Spot mapping
Defining the hot spots of crime operations
patrolling crime hot spots
increasing patrol in hot spots
increasing response time in hot spots
barriers to police response time in hot spots
communication among officers in Hot spot crime areas
communication systems for police patrol in hot spots
strategies in patrolling criminal hot spots

Request for Answer Clarification by jolk-ga on 24 Sep 2006 16:51 PDT
Hi umiat, 

Thanks for your work - I appreciate the effort. At this point, this
answer is somewhat helpful for me. I like that it provides high-level
overviews from a few different police departments, as that will direct
me in my own research and outreach. Some is too high level to be
useful, but I'm willing to believe that that may be a function of
what's publicly available.

The answer would be significantly more helpful if it had more
information in two areas:
1. What are the specific definitions that police are using for their
hotspot definitions (e.g., is there a formula for weighting Part I and
Part II crimes? Or is there a standard timeframe - two hours or two
weeks - in which the total number of incidents must exceed some
standard? Or are detectives looking by hand through the data to look
for evidence of connections between crimes - like the same car at the
scene of multiple crimes?). I imagine this will differ by city, but
any information you found or could find on this front would be very
2. What tactics are departments using to respond to hotspots in real
time - i.e., as they emerge over the course of a night or week, rather
than multiple months? The examples you provided largely seemed to
relate to longer-term definitions of hotspots.

If you do not wish to respond to these clarifications, just let me
know, and I'll give you a $25 tip for the work you've done. If you can
respond and provide this detail (keeping in mind that I had mentioned
both in my original request), I will add up to the additional $75 for
the maximum tip.

Thanks again, 

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 24 Sep 2006 21:18 PDT
Hello again, jolk-ga! 

 I have done some additional research concerning the questions in your
clarification. I am providing you with some additional references
regarding point ONE of your clarification. However, to be honest, this
is such a weighty subject that I cannot synthesize this information
for you without doing a research project myself! I spent many hours
reading articles on this subject just so I could cull relevant
excerpts for you in my original answer. In the interest of presenting
your with the most useful information for your research, I am going to
provide you with some helpful reference links at this point.

You have asked:

1.  What are the specific definitions that police are using for their
hotspot definitions (e.g., is there a formula for weighting Part I and
Part II crimes? Or is there a standard timeframe - two hours or two
weeks - in which the total number of incidents must exceed some
standard? Or are detectives looking by hand through the data to look
for evidence of connections between crimes - like the same car at the
scene of multiple crimes?). I imagine this will differ by city, but
any information you found or could find on this front would be very

As I mentioned in my original answer, criminal hot spots can be
deliniated by simple but dated "push pin" mapping based on incidence
occurance or by far more sophisticated mapping criteria assisted by
software technology.


According to Chapter 4 of Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice," hot
spot criteria varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Hot spots can
be defined and measured by time, scale, and gographic space, among

"The term hot spot has become part of the crime analysis lexicon and
has received a lot of attention. What are hot spots? How do we
recognize them?

"A hot spot is a condition indicating some form of clustering in a
spatial distribution. However, not all clusters are hot spots because
the environments that help generate crime - the places where people
are - also tend to be clusters. So any definition of hot spots has to
be qualified. Sherman (1995) defined hot spots "as small places in
which the occurrence of crime is so frequent that it is highly
predictable, at least over a 1-year period." According to Sherman,
crime is approximately six times more concentrated among places than
it is among individuals, hence the importance of asking "wheredunit"
as well as "whodunit." (See the appendix for hot spot-related

"Sherman's definition notwithstanding, there is currently no widely
accepted definition of a hot spot. Indeed, a rigid, absolute
definition may not be possible. Except for programs with procedures
that self-define hot spots, such as the Spatial and Temporal Analysis
of Crime (STAC) program (Block, 1995), jurisdiction- specific
procedures to define hot spots may make the most sense because they
will fit local conditions. In Baltimore County, Maryland, for example,
hot spots are identified according to three criteria: frequency,
geography, and time. At least two crimes of the same type must be
present. The area is small, and the timeframe is a 1- to 2-week
period. Hot spots are monitored by analysts until they become inactive
(Canter, 1997)."

"In many cases, analysts may not be able to define hot spots but may
know one when they see it. This makes comparisons difficult both
within and between jurisdictions. Furthermore, meaningful time-based
analyses are problematic, because hot spot definition criteria may not
be used consistently over time."

"Wide interjurisdictional and intrajurisdictional variations in
environments also make the application of absolute definition criteria
tricky. For example, the size and shape of city blocks vary widely.
West of the Appalachian Mountains, city layouts are usually dictated
by the rectangular land survey system, and blocks tend to be fairly
regular and rectangular. In the east, where metes-and-bounds surveys
prevailed, blocks are more likely to be irregular in shape and size.
Densities also vary greatly. Can the same definition criteria be
applied in low-density areas as in high-density areas? Crime-prone
populations are found in both environments. Can hot spots exist in
very low-density suburbs? Residents would probably think so.

Please read further...


For a very complicated example of how criteria might be utilized to
measure and deliniate hot spots in specific jurisdictions, please read
Chapter 2 of the first reference I provided in my original answer. It
is far too extensive for my to try to summarize!

"Chapter 2. Methods and Techniques for Understanding Crime Hot Spots."
Mapping Crime. Understanding Hot Spots


 Two more complex examples of hot spot criteria and analysis can be
found in the following paper:

Chapter 6: Hot Spot Analysis 1

6.1 Statistical Approaches to the Measurement of ?Hot Spots?

"Unfortunately, measuring a hot spot is also a complicated problem. There are
literally dozens of different statistical techniques designed to
identify ?hot spots? (Everitt,1974). Many, but not all, of the
techniques are typically known under the general statistical label of
cluster analysis. These are statistical techniques aimed at grouping
cases together into relatively coherent clusters. All of the
techniques depend on optimizing various statistical criteria, but the
techniques differ among themselves in their methodology as well as in
the criteria used for identification. Because ?hot spots? are
perceptual constructs, any technique that is used must approximate how
someone would
perceive an area. The techniques do this through various mathematical criteria.

Read further....


Chapter 7 - ?Hot Spot? Analysis II."

Scroll down to "How STAC Identifies Hot Spot Areas."


As to your second clarification - I believe most all of the examples I
provided in my original answer focused on technology and techniques
which are an attempt to get officers to respond to criminal hot spots
IMMEDIATELY - either as the crimes are occuring or as soon as possible
after the event!


Video policing allows officers to identify crimes that were previously
"hidden" and respond "as they are occuring"

"A drug deal is happening right now in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park,
and there are no cops around......When Gomez sees a crime going down,
he calls in officers and remotely guides them, step by step." (This is
an example of technology to assist immediate response)


Gunshot recognition technology combined with video cameras allows the
police detection center to become aware of criminal activity in a hot
spot area and direct officers to the scene immediately - even in the
absence of a 911 call!

"The camera will point in the direction of that gunshot [and] report
immediately; the officers here in the detection center will have the
ability to communicate to first responders about actionable
intelligence about what they see."


The establishment of directed patrol routes, as highlighted in the
previous example from Indianapolis, "frees officers from routine calls
for service" so they can patrol hot spots and respond immediately as
crimes occur.


The example of CompStat technology, which utlizes data to identify hot
spots, is an attempt to get officers into the most probable areas of
criminal activity, so that they can respond immediately as crimes

"CompStat provides information and intelligence to direct police
resources to the exact problem area...In Los Angeles, police have
found that the accuracy of the information is proportionate to the
effectiveness of the police response."


After my research initially, and several more hours this evening,
these are the most relevant examples I can find concerning tactics
that "departments are using to respond to hotspots in real time -
i.e., as they emerge over the course of a night or week..."

I believe all of these examples I gave previously actually are
relevant to immediate response - as incidents "emerge over the course
of a night or week."

Unfortunately, I don't know that I can offer much more at this point. 



Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 02 Jan 2007 12:31 PST
Hello, jolk!

 I noticed a fascinating article today that notes how important
surveillance cameras are becoming in solving crimes. I thought you
might be interested in the following article:

"Catching a Killer with help from a Camera - Surveillance Cameras Have
Become Crucial to Crime Scene Investigations," By JOAN MARTELLI and
JONEIL ADRIANO. ABC News. January 2007
jolk-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $80.00
Thanks for your quick and responsive clarification, which was again
helpful in pointing me to the best places for further research.
Overall, I believe this answer was good, and consistent with Google
Answers standards. As a business person looking to save time for
myself and my team, I wish that there were options available to go
further down the path of synthesizing across sources, in addition to
summarizing from the best ones  - it's frustrating to pay a
significant fee and to be subject to restrictions designed for kids in
school. In any case, I think you did a good job, I will use your
research in my work, and I will almost certainly find other uses for
this service in the future.

Subject: Re: Police Patrolling Strategies to Deal with Crime Hot Spots
From: umiat-ga on 25 Sep 2006 05:31 PDT
Thank you very much, jolk-ga!

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