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Using Geographic Information Systems To Support Broken Windows Policing

NCJ Number
Geography & Public Safety Volume: 1 Issue: 3 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 12-14
Philip Mielke
Date Published
September 2008
3 pages
This article describes the features of the effort to reduce graffiti in Riverside, CA.
This effort stemmed from the success of the New York City Police Department in applying the “broken-windows” policing theory. This theory argues that if minor crimes and disorder are targeted, then the deterrent effect will impact major crimes, i.e., if one window is broken without a response from the police/community, antisocial and criminal behavior will escalate to more serious crime. This theory was tested and believed to be supported when major crimes were reduced in New York City after police began focusing on minor crimes, such as graffiti crews and subway turnstile jumping. This article focuses on the field equipment, server architecture, and software application design of Riverside’s graffiti abatement project. Regarding field equipment, each graffiti cleanup crew member has a combination Ricoh GPS-enabled (global positioning system) camera with a customized entry screen. Upon arriving at the scene, the crew member takes multiple pictures of the graffiti and then proceeds to clean or cover up the graffiti. A camera records the method and duration of the cleaning. An image tag stores the date, time, latitude, longitude, crew ID, time spent, cleanup type, and work order number. The server architecture is split into six components in order to allow the police to maintain security for the stored data captured by the cleanup crews and their cameras. The software application design consists of the mirrored ArcSDE database, which stores spatial data. It combines this database with an Oracle database that stores data on each collected graffiti instance. The effort requires a partnership between the police GIS department and public works department in the development of a data-sharing relationship. 4 notes