A $150,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice will help West Virginia University and the City of Morgantown’s police departments analyze where and why crime is happening, so they can further work to prevent it.

WVU geography Professor Dr. Greg Elmes and doctoral student George Roedl acquired the funding to work with the WVU Police Department, under the direction of Chief Bob Roberts, and the City of Morgantown’s Police Department, under the direction of Chief Phil Scott, to form a crime mapping and analysis partnership.

The partnership represents the first such initiative in the state of West Virginia.

“This is a great opportunity to work with the academic side of the house in addressing crime. We are always encouraging new ways to analyze and prevent crime on campus and to work with Morgantown City Police for the benefit of the entire community,” Roberts said.

It is anticipated that the program will establish new criminal justice researcher-practitioner partnerships that can continue throughout the career of the researcher; and will also encourage criminal justice practice organizations to seek out future partnerships to make more informative practice and policy decisions. Additionally, it should provide a realistic overview of the day-to-day challenges faced by criminal justice researchers and practitioners.

The grant will support the adoption of geospatial crime analysis techniques across separate police jurisdictions to provide intelligence-led decision-making capabilities, which focus on enhancing the safety and security of college students, both on and off campus, and overall community safety.

By virtue of an objective and systematic approach to crime mapping and analysis, the goal of this research is to develop an information system for various decision makers that include college administrators, public officials and citizen organizations in addition to law enforcement agency leaders and private citizens. The overall objective is to identify emerging crime trends, enabling law enforcement agencies to quickly inform the public and solicit community participation while developing crime reduction strategies tailored to providing safer campuses and communities.

“This is another example of our great working relationship with WVU; it’s not unusual for our agencies to work together but this is a more in-depth long term project that will benefit the University community. Additionally, I am optimistic that this will greatly enhance our crime prevention capabilities,” Scott said.

The WVU course relevant to this program—spatial distributions of crime and how geography and geospatial tools play a role in understanding and reducing crime—is GEOG 494L/694X, taught in the spring semester by Dr. Elmes.