Hot Spots and Edge Effects: An Examination of Crime Patterns across Contiguous Suburban Police Agencies

Brian A. Lawton and Larry Hoover

Current innovations in policing require a more geographically-oriented focus on crime and places of interest. Unfortunately, these patterns are often limited to knowledge of crime only within the agency's jurisdiction. This has particular significance when identifying "hot spots" of criminal activity, as it is not confined to these same boundaries. This is particularly germane to contiguous suburban jurisdictions with "jigsaw puzzle" borders. The authors used data collected through the Criminal Research, Information Management and Evaluation System (CRIMES) to examine this issue and determine how these contiguous areas impact on the identification of "hot spots" of criminal activity. Data from Southlake, in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, were employed. Results demonstrate that the identification of the hot spots can be strongly impacted by crime from the surrounding jurisdictions.

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