Research / Themes / Trends in governance / Policing urban America

For a number of years, the city of Camden (NJ) has been the most dangerous city in America. Plagued by poverty and unemployment that have fuelled drug markets and violence, it has struggled with a lack of clarity and direction to address the crime problems in the city. With grant money to help the police department, we have developed the map base for the city and fine-tuned police data systems to enable us to map 98% of crime in the city. With this enhanced data, we have created crime intelligence products that have influenced thinking about methadone clinics, crime suppression operations, and gangs and drug corners. A paper on the last topic has been published in a new journal, Crime Patterns and Analysis. Through these projects, graduate students have been able to work at the interface between police decision-making and some of the most tenacious crime problems in America today. For the students, the experience has been an invaluable lesson about the potential positive interactions of academia and policy making. This work, which builds on projects in other urban settings, including Philadelphia, is generating broader theoretical and practical insights into the challenges with, and opportunities for policing in urban American settings.

Related faculty

Jerry Ratcliffe
Jennifer Wood

Selected publications

Ratcliffe, JH. & Taniguchi, T. (2008) Is crime higher around drug-gang street corners? Two spatial approaches to the relationship between gang set spaces and local crime levels. Crime Patterns and Analysis, 1(1).

McCord, ES. & Ratcliffe, JH. (2007) A micro-spatial analysis of the demographic and criminogenic environment of drug markets in Philadelphia, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. Volume 40, issue 1: 43-63.

Rengert, GF., Ratcliffe, JH. & Chakravorty, S. (2005) Policing Illegal Drug Markets: Geographic Approaches to Crime Reduction, Criminal Justice Press.