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Spatial Crime Displacement Resulting from Large-Scale Urban Renewal Programs in the City of Baltimore, MD: A GIS Modeling Approach

SCHUMACHER, Brian J. (bjschu@juno.com), LEITNER, Michael, Louisiana State University, 113 Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Key Words: spatial crime displacement; GIS modeling; Baltimore, MD

The city of Baltimore, Maryland has received widespread acclaim for the aggressive programs of urban renewal it has implemented since the mid-1970s, most notably around the Inner Harbor and the Fells Point sections of its downtown area. However, while the aesthetic improvements and the influx of revenue generated by the programs have been studied at length, the effect that these programs have had on the spatial distribution of criminal activity in the city has remained largely unknown. This is especially important because while crime has decreased (due to the urban renewal programs around the Inner Harbor and Fells Point), the city's overall crime rates have remained unchanged and among the highest in the country. The main objective of this research is to determine how the spatial distribution of crime has changed in the wake of the downtown redevelopment and to propose models of spatial crime displacement. Such models will help city planning bureaus and law enforcement agencies in Baltimore, and other urban areas, with pro-active decision making with the goal to decrease overall criminal activities.

The study area for this project includes the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, and adjacent areas, covering three police districts (the first, the second, and the ninth) and fifty census tracts. For this area, address-level crime data (robberies and burglaries) have been obtained from the Baltimore City Police Department for the period 1988 through 1998. Additionally, various economic, educational, social, and physical variables have been collected from the 1980 and 1990 U.S. Population Census. The methods used to develop models of crime displacement include measures of spatial distribution, hot-spot analyses, and multiple regression analyses. Hot-spot analyses are applied to identify the highest concentrations of robberies and burglaries within the study area and how they changed over time due to changes in the census variables. The regression analyses are used to determine the specific characteristics of places within the study area witnessing changes in their crime rates. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is used for the storage and analysis of the data, as well as for the development and visualization of the model results.

This paper will address the following conference topics: advances in Geographical Information Systems, particularly in the area of spatial analysis; statistical modeling (predictive and descriptive); and geostatistics.