In 1997, when the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) was planning to create its Crime Mapping Research Center (CMRC), we convened a 2-day strategic planning meeting to seek advice on the Center's goals, direction, and mission. Before the meeting, we had assumed that many agencies were already using mapping and that NIJ's goal would be to encourage the field to move beyond descriptive mapping (e.g., pin maps) toward analytic mapping. The meeting helped us recognize that another goal must be to assist the large number of agencies that are not using mapping.

Keith Harries, who received one of the first grants from CMRC, has prepared this comprehensive guide for agencies that are in the early stages of using geographic information systems (GIS). His words are directed to law enforcement professionals who have a little knowledge about GIS and want to learn more about its benefits and limitations.

He has collected more than 110 maps to illustrate how GIS is used. These pictures express the truth of the phrase "one picture is worth a thousand words."

Dr. Harries' guide is not designed to stand alone. Law enforcement agencies will need other curriculum materials as well-especially software manuals—but it will be a starting place. Additional materials and links to other sources of information can be found at CMRC's World Wide Web site ( As a clearinghouse of information about crime mapping, CMRC also sponsors a listserv (, which has more than 640 subscribers, and an annual conference, which draws more than 700 attendees.

Today about 13 percent of law enforcement agencies are using GIS regularly to analyze their crime problems, and we are certain to see this number increase significantly as more and more agencies begin using computerized crime mapping to identify and solve their crime problems. We hope this guide will help them get started. For agencies that are already using crime mapping technology, we hope this guide will spark ideas about new ways to use it.

Jeremy Travis
National Institute of Justice

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Mapping Crime: Principle and Practice, by Keith Harries, Ph.D., December 1999