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Study of Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities: An NIJ Intramural Research Project, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 1997
11 pages
Publication Series
This report presents the methodology and findings of a research project designed to assist in refining the understanding of the dynamics of homicide patterns in eight U.S. cities.
The study examined the extent to which demographic trends, economic conditions, drug use and drug markets, changes in firearms use, and the response of law enforcement agencies appeared to be associated with changes in homicide rates over time. Data were collected in the summer of 1996 for the period 1985-94 in eight cities. These cities were chosen for the strength of their homicide trends, so the findings cannot be generalized to other cities. In addition to studying the extant homicide data for the cities, the researchers conducted site visits and interviews. The findings show that homicides in which the victim and offender were intimates or related composed a relatively small portion of all homicides, but a sizable portion of female homicides. Guns appeared to be increasingly preferred as the means of homicide, regardless of whether the homicide rate in a city was increasing or decreasing. Homicide rates corresponded closely with cocaine use levels measured among the adult male arrestee population. Young black males, particularly those 18 to 24 years old, were greatly overrepresented among homicide victims compared to their representation in the general population. Topics identified for future research are the links between guns, emergency medical services, and mortality rates; the spatial and temporal distribution of homicide, including the link between public housing and homicide; the effects of changes in law enforcement practices on homicide; and the influence of economic conditions on homicide trends for all large U.S. cities. 6 data exhibits and 5 notes

Date Published: November 1, 1997