Place-Based Test of an Environmental Risk-Based Patrol Deployment Strategy

Using a place-based method of evaluation and spatial units of analysis, a study led by researchers at the Rutgers Center on Public Security is measuring the extent to which allocating police patrols to high-risk areas affects the frequency and spatial distribution of new crimes.

The Rutgers researchers are conducting a quasi-experimental project in collaboration with six police agencies (Arlington, Texas; Chicago; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Glendale, Ariz.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Newark, N.J.). The study has two primary goals:

  • To replicate and validate risk terrain modeling (RTM) in multiple jurisdictions and across many different crime types.
  • To evaluate theoretically and empirically grounded risk-based interventions targeting high-risk micro-level environments. (High-risk areas will be defined using RTM methods and matched with equivalent control areas through a propensity score matching technique to determine intervention effectiveness.)

RTM is a geospatial method of operationalizing the spatial influence of risk factors to common geographic units in a way that is consistent with insights gained from existing criminological theories and empirical research. Researchers combine separate risk map layers to produce a risk terrain map showing the presence, absence or intensity of all risk factors at every location throughout the landscape. Clustering of illegal activity in particular areas is explained in RTM by the unique combination of risk factors that make these areas opportune locations for crime. Clustering occurs when the potential for or risk of crime results from all the factors found at these places.

Crime analysis practitioners and researchers have demonstrated how RTM can fit into contemporary police practices by articulating officers’ “gut feelings” and perceptions of risk in places beyond merely referencing past occurrences of reported crimes. As an analytical method, RTM articulates the “backcloth” of place-based risks and can identify and help prioritize evidence-based responses to mitigate risks. With the growing use of intelligence-led operations in the law enforcement community, geospatial risk assessments for crime are especially important for tactical actions, resource allocations, and short- and long-term strategic planning.

See grant details for "Risk Terrain Modeling Experiment: A Multi-Jurisdictional Place-Based Test of an Environmental Risk-Based Patrol Deployment Strategy," Rutgers University, NIJ grant 2012-IJ-CX-0038.

Date Created: June 9, 2014