Police Use GIS in D.C.–Area Sniper Case and More

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Kim Rossmo, who developed the geographic profiling software called RIGEL, was among that group of researchers. The investigative methodology "can determine a criminal's place of work or residence within the top 5 percent of suspects," he said.

Mapping "Hot Spots"

For various types of crimes such as burglaries, purse snatchings, vehicle theft, and juvenile crimes, investigators can plot incident data and related information in a GIS to determine "hot spots" of criminal activity.

Residents of most major U.S. cities and many suburban areas can access local crime statistics online and view the results in a GIS format.

"A picture speaks a thousand words," said Canter.

Preventing Crimes

GIS can also be used as a tool to prevent crimes.

"In addition to policing services, our department contains housing, recreation, and senior citizen services. We want to create a more livable community by supporting strong families, resilient youth, and safe and sustainable neighborhoods," said Bueermann.

"We use GIS to determine areas where money should be allocated to stimulate first-time home owners loans," he said, as one example.

The Redlands GIS project now involves eight cities in the San Bernardino Valley. "We're trying to put together a regional perspective of crime," said Bueermann.

In another preventive measure, the Redlands police department is using GIS to map youth suspensions, expulsions, and truancy in schools. These behaviors are linked to early academic failure, which has a high correlation to juvenile crime. Areas with high concentrations of these problems are being targeted for the development of after-school recreational programs to prevent or at least reduce future juvenile crime.

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