This guide introduces the science of crime mapping to police officers, crime analysts, and other people interested in visualizing crime data through the medium of maps. Presumably most readers will be working in law enforcement agencies, broadly interpreted to include courts, corrections, the military police, and Federal agencies such as the FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, National Park Service, U.S. Customs Service, and U.S. Secret Service, as well as police departments. The material is designed primarily for those who know little or nothing about mapping crime and who are motivated to learn more.
This is not a guide to software. Nowhere is there more than a word or two on how to do anything technical involving a computer. A purely technical guide would quickly be out of date, and a guide that served one set of software devotees would not serve others. Technical guidance is best sought from the manuals and interest groups specific to each software package.
What will be found here is a broad approach addressing the kinds of questions crime mapping can answer and how, in general terms, it can answer them. Caveats are given from time to time, notably the caution against uncritically accepting all the default settings that crime mapping software so conveniently provides.
Most readers will not read this guide from cover to cover. Some will concentrate on application-oriented material. Others will have an interest in the history of crime mapping, realizing that where we have been can help us figure out where we
The presentation employed in this guide leans heavily on examples. Indeed, the guide is made up of examples with the words draped around them. Crime analysts and researchers from across the United States and from Canada and the United Kingdom have contributed. Without their help, this guide would be an empty shell. I am extremely grateful to all who donated their work so graciously, and a partial listing of these kind souls is found in the acknowledgments.