Study: Homicide spreads like infectious disease

Nov 29, 2012
A study led by Michigan State University's April Zeoli found that homicide spreads through a community like infectious disease. Credit: Michigan State University

Homicide moves through a city in a process similar to infectious disease, according to a new study that may give police a new tool in tracking and ultimately preventing murders.

Using Newark, N.J., as a pilot case, a team of Michigan State University researchers led by April Zeoli successfully applied public health tracking methods to the city's 2,366 homicides between 1982 and 2008. They found the killings were not randomly located but instead followed a pattern, evolving from the city's center and moving southward and westward over time.

Like a flu bug that spreads to susceptible groups such as children and the elderly, clusters in Newark – often fueled by and guns – spread to areas consisting largely of poor and minority residents. Over time, the concentration of homicides effectively disappeared from one area and settled in another.

"By using the principles of , we may be able to predict the spread of homicide and reduce the incidence of this crime," said Zeoli, public health researcher in MSU's School of Criminal Justice.

The study is one of the first to use from the field of medical geography to track long-term homicide trends. Zeoli said the method can be done in real time which would allow police to identify emerging hotspots.

The researchers also identified areas of Newark that had no homicide clusters during the 26-year time frame of the study, despite being surrounded by deadly violence.

"If we could discover why some of those communities are resistant," Zeoli said, "we could work on increasing the resistance of our communities that are more susceptible to homicide."

The study is published in Justice Quarterly, a research journal.

Explore further: New 'Surveyman' software promises to revolutionize survey design and accuracy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

SHSU professor investigates trends for elderly and crime

May 31, 2012

While the elderly represent the fastest growing segment of the population, too little is known about the nature and scope of crime impacting this generation. Victoria Titterington of Sam Houston State University is trying ...

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

Oct 23, 2014

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

Oct 23, 2014

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

Oct 23, 2014

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarD
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2012
Yup. Uncle Sam has a terminal case of Conservative disease.

Yesterday in Florida, a tea-bagger pulled up to a car of Yoo'tz, and complained about loud music coming from their car. When they refused to turn down the volume, he fired 8 shots into the car, killing one young man.

He is claiming that Under Florida law, he is innocent because he feared for his life, and fired in self defense, even though the people he shot and murdered were unarmed.

VendicarD
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2012
"If we could discover why some of those communities are resistant," Zeoli said, "we could work on increasing the resistance of our communities that are more susceptible to homicide."

No perceived Justice... No peace...

It is as simple as that.

This is why the first and second world Socialist states are so peaceful compared to the a murderous nation like the U.S.