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Throughout the years, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) have been at the forefront of support for the growth and development of crime mapping.
One example of this support is the Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) program at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The mission of MAPS is to advance applied and basic research involving the spatial analysis of crime, and the program serves as a clearinghouse for information on spatial analysis in criminological research. MAPS also funds numerous projects that are working to enhance the application of crime mapping. For example, MAPS funding for the Institute for the Spatial Analysis of Crime (ISAC) at Eastern Kentucky University supports the development of free software for geographic profiling and crime series forecasting that can be integrated with the most common GIS applications. Another MAPS effort is the Ninth Crime Mapping Research Conference to be held in March 2007, which will focus on the use and development of methodologies for practitioners and researchers.
The Crime Mapping and Analysis Program (CMAP) is located at the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)?Rocky Mountain in Denver, Colorado. NLECTC is a program of NIJ?s Office of Science and Technology, and CMAP plays an important role in training law enforcement in the use of crime analysis and GIS and also provides individualized technical assistance. CMAP offers introductory and advanced courses that are free of charge to state and local public safety personnel. CMAP also supports agencies in analyzing crime through CATCH?the Crime Analysis Tactical Clearing House.
The COPS Office has supported crime mapping efforts over the years through the COPS MORE (Making Officer Redeployment Effective) grant program, funding the purchase of necessary hardware and software by state and local agencies. COPS also funds the Crime Mapping and Problem Analysis Laboratory at the Police Foundation. The laboratory offers an array of products to help law enforcement use crime mapping for effective problem solving. Two new COPS-funded publications (to be published in spring 2007) concern using mapping for prisoner reentry efforts and to integrate intelligence and crime analysis.
As COPS and OJP continue to support crime mapping efforts, it is important to remember that, although GIS is a valuable tool, it does not provide all of the answers. Law enforcement must use crime data to answer questions about to whom, when, why, where, and how crime occurs. The continued advances in crime mapping software and training are key to understanding the “where” of crime occurrences.