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Finding coolable hot spots for crime

A new model suggests that some high-risk areas are easier to manage than others

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6:17pm, February 20, 2010

SAN DIEGO — Not all crime hot spots are created equal, a new mathematical model suggests. For some areas repeatedly hit hard with crime, police intervention can shut down lawlessness and keep it down. But for others, police involvement just shifts the trouble around.

“If you see a hot area of crime, you want to know: If you send the police in, will that displace the crime or get rid of the crime altogether?” said Andrea Bertozzi, a mathematician at UCLA who presented the new model February 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We were able to predict the ability to suppress or otherwise displace hot spots.” The results will also appear February 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study “makes a major contribution to the theory of hot spots of crime,” comments John Eck, a criminologist at the University of Cincinnati.

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