U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Translational Criminology and the Science of Community - Plenary Panel at the 2011 NIJ Conference

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2011
10 pages
These panel presentations at the 2011 NIJ Conference address issues in criminological studies that focus on community characteristics where crime is concentrated.
In his introductory comments, John Lamb, Director of the National Institute of Justice, notes that the bulk of criminological studies of the causes of crime have focused on the characteristics of individuals associated with their criminal behavior. The current panel, however, pertains to "translational" criminology, which focuses on the characteristics of communities where crime is concentrated and how these community characteristics promote criminal behavior among residents. Robert Sampson, Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard University, discusses his work in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. The focus of this project is on the features of Chicago neighborhoods where crime, particularly violence, is concentrated. Topics addressed are collective efficacy, the importance of culture, systematic social observation, and the importance of community organizations. Edward Davis, the Boston Police Commissioner, discusses the importance of police interacting with community residents and organizations to identify factors that must be addressed in partnership in order to make the community safer. Michael Davis, Chief of the Brooklyn Park Police Department (Minnesota), discusses the importance of "community building," which means that community members assume the primary responsibility for improving the safety of their community. Police can respond in emergencies, but those who live in the community must address the ongoing threats to public safety. The role of the police is to provide leadership in guiding the community to assume responsibility for neighborhood conditions and behaviors that instill fear and pose threats to safety.

Date Published: June 1, 2011