Institute for Justice Information Systems Plans Giveaway of Crime-Fighting
7, 2000 -- On April 28, University of Virginia systems
engineering professor Don Brown and his colleagues at the Virginia
Institute for Justice Information Systems (VIJIS) will make
an innovative crime-fighting program available over the World Wide
Web for free.
software, ReCAP-SDE, will enable small police departments around
the world to better track and analyze crimes in their jurisdictions.
The ultimate goal is to help law enforcement agencies anticipate
the time and place of likely criminal activity, allowing them to
better allocate their resources and improve service to their communities
within their current budgets.
tests of this software have shown that it picks up on subtle increases
in criminal activity by as much as three months before they are
noticed by crime analysts," Brown said.
and U.Va.'s Virginia Institute for Justice Information Systems decided
on the giveaway of the small department edition of the software
as a community service.
departments everywhere shoulder a lot of responsibility to try and
keep their communities safe with limited resources," Brown said.
"This was something we could do to help law enforcement do a better
job of mapping and analyzing crime data."
Regional Crime Analysis Program Small Department Edition
(ReCAP-SDE) works with a police department's existing records management
system, a geographic information system (GIS), and data mining tools.
software enables law enforcement officers to identify patterns in
crime data, including the location and time of crimes and changes
in their frequency.
in the toolbox are:
A set of mapping tools, one of which allows the analyst to select
all crimes or specific types of crimes in a given area and view
those crimes in the form of a list. For example, an analyst might
be interested in all of the burglaries in the vicinity of a particular
A control-chart tool that allows the user to determine whether
the number of crimes is unusually high or low. If the number of
crimes is higher than usual, corrective action may be needed.
The control-chart tool can be run automatically at night or in
the background, to look for changing patterns of criminal behavior.
If a change happens, the crime analyst is notified.
The time-charting tool plots the number of crimes occurring at
a particular time of the day, day of the week, or day of the month.
This tool allows an analyst to determine, for example, if burglaries
are more likely to occur in the afternoon, on Saturday nights,
or on certain days of the month.
The tactical-analysis tool permits the analyst to calculate similarity
between crimes. For example, the analyst could compare a burglary
in which the criminal used a crowbar to pry open the back door
with all of the other burglaries in the database. The tactical-analysis
tool would return those crimes that were an exact match and those
crimes that were similar, for example, a burglary in which the
criminal opened the front door with a tire iron.
also makes it easier to create reports about the number and location
of crimes, reducing the time and cost of such reporting.
software is particularly appropriate for small rural police departments
that run a crime analysis once a week or less, Brown said. It can
be downloaded by any police department with a standard Windows (98/NT/2000)
computer. The system is straightforward and simple to operate by
police officers with minimal computer literacy. The Virginia Institute
for Justice Information Systems will offer support via telephone,
email, and over the Internet.
program has been under development for four years by Brown and a
battalion of graduate and undergraduate students in systems engineering
at the University of Virginia. Support also has been provided by
the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and the National
Institute of Justice, among other sources.
will continue to charge a fee for its more complex version of the
software, ReCAP, which is appropriate for large, busy, urban police
departments. Revenues are reinvested in software development, support
of VIJIS and related systems engineering classes at U.Va.
enforcement agencies that have participated in the development of
the software include the police departments in Albemarle County,
Va., and the cities of Charlottesville and Richmond, Va., the University
of Virginia Police Department, the Virginia Department of Criminal
Justice Services, the Crime Mapping Research Center at the National
Institute of Justice, and the GIS Unit of the U.S. Department of
more information on ReCAP, contact Donald Brown, at (804) 924- 2074
or at firstname.lastname@example.org; or contact
Jason Dalton at (804) 924-5397 or at email@example.com.
Visit the web site: http://vijis.sys.Virginia.EDU/vijis/
Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858