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Exploring the Spatial Configuration of Places Related to Homicide Events, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2006
135 pages
This report presents findings from a study on the spatial configuration of homicides in Washington, DC.
Main findings indicated that victims and offenders are involved in homicide events that are relatively close to their homes. Victims had median distances of .06 miles and offenders .69 miles from their homes to the homicide events. Regardless of motive for homicide, the average distance between offender home and victim home was always the longest. For most motives, the distance between offender home and homicide event was the next longest and victim home to homicide event was the shortest. The findings also report on person and event characteristics. Males were found to travel further to a homicide event than females, regardless of whether they were the victim or offender. Victims under 18 years of age had the shortest distance to homicide events while the opposite was the case for offenders--older offenders traveled the shortest distance to the homicide event. In terms of event characteristics, homicide events involving firearms were committed at the farthest location from the offender's home compared to homicides committed with other weapons. The analysis focused on describing the relative distances between the victim's home, the offender's home, and the homicide location for the 4,552 homicides that occurred in the District during the 13-year period between 1990 and 2002. Data were gathered from the Metropolitan Police. Data analysis involved three phases: distance-to-crime analysis, explorations of spatial interactions, and explorations of cartographic representation, each of which is explained in turn. Statistical analysis included the generation of descriptive statistics on victim, offender, and event characteristics and Euclidean distance calculations on the three locations under analysis. Policy implications are discussed and include insights into how the problem solving activities of police patrol can be enhanced and how homicide investigations can be aided through an understanding of the spatial configuration of homicide events. Footnotes, exhibits, references, appendix

Date Published: March 1, 2006