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Investigating the Homicide Rise in St. Louis, Missouri

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This study examines what factors have influenced the St. Louis homicide spike between 2011 and 2018. The study uses data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the St. Louis Missouri Police Department, including information on population, poverty levels, race,

This study examines what factors have influenced the St. Louis homicide spike between 2011 and 2018. The study uses data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the St. Louis Missouri Police Department, including information on population, poverty levels, race, homicide demographics, and homicide toxicology reports to analyze possible explanations for the high rates in homicide. In this study, I explore literature on elements associated with homicide that could be responsible for the high levels in St. Louis. Concepts of concentrated disadvantage, drug markets, firearms, regional differences, and the Ferguson Effect are reviewed and then evaluated in regard to the St. Louis data. I found that the high rates of homicide are related to high levels of concentrated disadvantage, increased use of drugs, increased homicide by firearm, and regional differences within the broader context of the city.

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2020-05

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Effective Hot Spot Policing: A Proposal

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Though problem-oriented policing and hot spot policing are both effective modern policing strategies, some critics have argued that the risk of crime displacement can outweigh the returns of hot spot policing, ultimately rendering it inefficacious. However, a growing body of

Though problem-oriented policing and hot spot policing are both effective modern policing strategies, some critics have argued that the risk of crime displacement can outweigh the returns of hot spot policing, ultimately rendering it inefficacious. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that crime displacement is not only uncommon, but significantly rarer than diffusions of benefits. As diffusion is a desirable side effect of any policing strategy, it follows that police officers should use the phenomenon to their advantage. Using the data and methodologies of a number of hot spot policing studies—especially Koper’s (1995) research on temporal diffusion—this paper proposes a number of simple steps a police department can take to maximize their department’s effectiveness in high-crime areas.

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2015-05

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An experimental approach analyzing who sees disorder when there is nothing to see: understanding variance of perceptions via personal characteristics

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Knowing that disorder is related to crime, it has become essential for criminologists to understand how and why certain individuals perceive disorder. Using data from the Perceptions of Neighborhood Disorder and Interpersonal Conflict Project, this study uses a fixed photograph

Knowing that disorder is related to crime, it has become essential for criminologists to understand how and why certain individuals perceive disorder. Using data from the Perceptions of Neighborhood Disorder and Interpersonal Conflict Project, this study uses a fixed photograph of a neighborhood, to assess whether individuals "see" disorder cues. A final sample size of n=815 respondents were asked to indicate if they saw particular disorder cues in the photograph. The results show that certain personal characteristics do predict whether an individual sees disorder. Because of the experimental design, results are a product of the individual's personal characteristics, not of the respondent's neighborhood. These findings suggest that the perception of disorder is not as clear cut as once thought. Future research should explore what about these personal characteristics foster the perception of disorder when it is not present, as well as, how to fight disorder in neighborhoods when perception plays such a substantial role.

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2013

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Thoughtfully reflective decision making as a mediator [electronic resource]: examining the indirect effect of self-control on delinquency

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Since Gottfredson and Hirschi proposed the general theory of crime, the direct link between self-control and delinquency has gained strong empirical support, and low self-control is now considered as a significant predictor of individual delinquent behaviors. However, the indirect link

Since Gottfredson and Hirschi proposed the general theory of crime, the direct link between self-control and delinquency has gained strong empirical support, and low self-control is now considered as a significant predictor of individual delinquent behaviors. However, the indirect link between self-control and delinquency still remains understudied. This study fills this void by introducing thoughtfully reflective decision making (TRDM), an important factor intimated by rational choice theory, as the mediator of the relationship between low self-control and delinquency. Using self-reported data from the city of Changzhi, China, this study finds that self-control is closely related to TRDM, low self-control is a significant predictor of general and non-violent delinquency, and TRDM does not mediate the effect of low self-control on delinquency. Findings from this study largely support the generalizability of self-control theory under the Chinese cultural environment, and also suggest that it might be fruitful to test other criminological theories in the Chinese context. The study's findings and their implications for theory and research are discussed.

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2014

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Criminal partnerships: the effects of intervention strategies on "cartel affiliated" gangs

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Mexican drug cartels have been a difficult group to get official data on because of the clandestine nature of their operations and the inherent dangers associated with any type of research on these groups. Due to the close relationship that

Mexican drug cartels have been a difficult group to get official data on because of the clandestine nature of their operations and the inherent dangers associated with any type of research on these groups. Due to the close relationship that the United States and Mexico share, the United States being a heavy demander of illicit drugs and Mexico being the supplier or the transshipment point, research that sheds light on cartels and their effects is necessary in order to solve this problem. A growing concern is that cartels have been seeking to improve their international infrastructure. This could potentially be done by partnering with gangs located in the United States to help with the distribution of drugs. The author uses data from the 2009 and 2010 Arizona Gang Threat Assessment and three sets of analyses (dummy variable regression, change score, multinomial logistic) to shed light on the possible partnership between cartels and U.S. based gangs. Primarily using the varying level of intervention strategies practiced by police departments throughout the state of Arizona, this study is exploratory in nature, but attempts to find the effectiveness of intervention strategies on "cartel affiliated" gangs, as identified by federal authorities, and how police departments respond towards these same groups. With the current data, there was no significant evidence that suggests that intervention strategies were less effective on "cartel affiliated" gangs or that police departments were responsive towards these “affiliated” gangs.

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2015

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Procedural justice and legal socialization among serious adolescent offenders: a longitudinal examination

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Research on Tyler’s process-based model has found strong empirical support. The premise of this model is that legitimacy and legal cynicism mediate the relationship between procedural justice and compliance behaviors. Procedural justice and legitimacy in particular have been linked to

Research on Tyler’s process-based model has found strong empirical support. The premise of this model is that legitimacy and legal cynicism mediate the relationship between procedural justice and compliance behaviors. Procedural justice and legitimacy in particular have been linked to compliance and cooperation and a small, but growing body of literature has examined how these factors relate to criminal offending. There remains a number of unanswered questions surrounding the developmental processes and underlying mechanisms of procedural justice and legal socialization. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, this study will build upon recent trends in the literature to examine what factors influence changes in perceptions of procedural justice and legal socialization attitudes over time. In order to do so, the effects of a number of time-stable and time-varying covariates will be assessed. Second, this study will evaluate the effects of four possible mediating measures—legitimacy, legal cynicism, anger, and prosocial motivation—underlying the relationship between procedural justice and criminal offending. This section of the study will use a multilevel mediation method to assess whether mediation occurs between or within the individual.

Data from the Pathways to Desistance Study—a longitudinal study of 1,354 adolescents adjudicated of a serious offense followed-up for seven years—are used to address this research agenda. Results from this study offer three general conclusions. First, results show that perceptions of procedural justice are malleable, that is, they can change over time and are influenced by a number of factors. Legal socialization beliefs, however, demonstrate only marginal change over time, suggesting these beliefs to be more stable. Second, analyses indicate differing pathways and effects for direct and vicarious experiences of procedural justice. Finally, the multilevel mediation analyses reveal that within-individual changes in direct experiences of procedural justice remains a robust predictor of offending, regardless of the presence of mediating variables. Legitimacy was found to have the strongest mediation effect on between-individual differences in direct procedural justice, whereas anger partially mediated the effects of between-individual differences in vicarious procedural justice. This study concludes with a discussion of policy implications and avenues for future research.

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2016

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Romantic dissolution and offending during emerging adulthood

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Criminologists have directed significant theoretical and empirical attention toward the institution of marriage over the past two decades. Importantly, the momentum guiding this line of research has increased despite the fact that people are getting married far less often and

Criminologists have directed significant theoretical and empirical attention toward the institution of marriage over the past two decades. Importantly, the momentum guiding this line of research has increased despite the fact that people are getting married far less often and much later in the life course than in any point in American history. The aim of this dissertation is to address this disconnect by focusing attention to nonmarital romantic relationships and their instability during emerging adulthood. To do so, it uses data from the Pathways to Desistance Study, a longitudinal study of 1,354 at-risk males and females who were adjudicated from the juvenile and adult systems in Phoenix and Philadelphia between 2000 and 2003. The project focuses attention to the following issues: (1) the effect of romantic dissolution on aggressive and income-based offenses; (2) the extent to which strain
egative emotionality and peer influence/exposure account for the effect of romantic dissolution on crime; and (3) the extent to which certain relationship and individual circumstances moderate the effect of romantic dissolution. The models reveal a few key findings. First, romantic dissolution is strongly related to an increase in both aggressive and income-based crime, but is more strongly related to income-based crime. Second, the effect of romantic dissolution is reduced when measures of strain
egative emotionality and peer influence/exposure measures are added to models, but the peer influence/exposure measures account for the strongest reduction. Finally, romantic dissolution does not serve as a positive life event among these at-risk youth, but its effect is exacerbated under a number of contexts (e.g. when an individual is unemployed). This study closes with a summary of these findings as well as its key limitations, and offers insight into potential policy implications and avenues of future research.

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Date Created
2013

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Exploring the impact of department policy on TASER-proximate arrest related deaths

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The controversy over law enforcement use of TASER devices and the potential for the devices to cause death has proliferated in recent years. In 2005 the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published

The controversy over law enforcement use of TASER devices and the potential for the devices to cause death has proliferated in recent years. In 2005 the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published national-level policy guidelines for the use of TASER devices, with one of the goals being to reduce the occurrence of deaths proximal to their use. What remains unknown in regard to these guidelines is whether or not departments that adhere to these guidelines are experiencing fewer TASER-proximate arrest related deaths (ARDs) than departments who are not. This study seeks to determine preliminary answers to this question by conducting a comparison of the policies of departments with three or more TASER-proximate ARDs to a matched sample of police departments that deploy the TASER, but have no (or one to two) TASER-proximate ARDs. The departments were matched on the number of full time sworn officers, geography (region, division, or state), and department type. Once matched, all department policies were coded based on how closely they adhered to the following areas of PERF and IACP guidelines: use of force against vulnerable/at risk populations, policies governing the TASER device deployment, training, reporting, and post-exposure requirements. Study departments, when compared to matched departments, had a greater number of policy areas with higher failure to comply rates. The same was true when looking at the category totals, as well as the overall totals, with the difference in failure to comply rates being larger for PERF than IACP. These findings show an association between departments with three or more TASER-proximate ARDs and higher failure to comply rates with national model policies. Additionally, it appears that many departments are failing to heed research findings or advice from outside their department. Based on this, future research may want to address the ways in which greater compliance with national policies can be obtained nationwide.

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2012

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The non-criminal consequences of gang membership: impacts on education and employment in the life-course

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Research on the consequences of gang membership is limited mainly to the study of crime and victimization. This gives the narrow impression that the effects of gang membership do not cascade into other life domains. This dissertation conceptualized gang membershi

Research on the consequences of gang membership is limited mainly to the study of crime and victimization. This gives the narrow impression that the effects of gang membership do not cascade into other life domains. This dissertation conceptualized gang membership as a snare in the life-course that disrupts progression in conventional life domains. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth Cohort of 1997 (NLSY97) data were used to examine the effects of adolescent gang membership on the nature and patterns of educational attainment and employment over a 12-year period in the life-course. Variants of propensity score weighting were used to assess the effects of gang joining on a range of outcomes pertaining to educational attainment and employment. The key findings in this dissertation include: (1) selection adjustments partially or fully confounded the effects of gang joining; despite this (2) gang joiners had 70 percent the odds of earning a high school diploma and 42 percent the odds of earning a 4-year college degree than matched individuals who avoided gangs; (3) at the 11-year mark, the effect of gang joining on educational attainment exceeded one-half year; (4) gang joiners made up for proximate deficits in high school graduation and college matriculation, but gaps in 4-year college degree and overall educational attainment gained throughout the study; (5) gang joiners were less likely to be employed and more likely to not participate in the labor force, and these differences accelerated toward the end of the study; (6) gang joiners spent an additional one-third of a year jobless relative to their matched counterparts; and (7) the cumulative effect of gang joining on annual income exceeded $14,000, which was explained by the patterning of joblessness rather than the quality of jobs. The theoretical and policy implications of these findings, as well as directions for future research, are addressed in the concluding chapter of this dissertation.

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2012

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Examining gang social network structure and criminal behavior

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The current study examines the social structure of local street gangs in Glendale, Arizona. Literature on gang organization has come to different conclusions about gang organization, largely based on the methodology used. One consistent finding from qualitative gang research has

The current study examines the social structure of local street gangs in Glendale, Arizona. Literature on gang organization has come to different conclusions about gang organization, largely based on the methodology used. One consistent finding from qualitative gang research has been that understanding the social connections between gang members is important for understanding how gangs are organized. The current study examines gang social structure by recreating gang social networks using official police data. Data on documented gang members, arrest records, and field interview cards from a 5-year period from 2006 to 2010 were used. Yearly social networks were constructed going two steps out from documented gang members. The findings indicated that gang networks had high turnover and they consisted of small subgroups. Further, the position of the gang member or associate was a significant predictor of arrest, specifically for those who had high betweenness centrality. At the group level, density and measures of centralization were not predictive of group-level behavior; hybrid groups were more likely to be involved in criminal behavior, however. The implications of these findings for both theory and policy are discussed.

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2013