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: Understanding the economics of human trafficking

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

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

23 hours ago

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

Affirmative action elicits bias in pro-equality Caucasians

Jul 25, 2014

New research from Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business indicates that bias towards the effects of affirmative action exists in not only people opposed to it, but also in those who strongly endorse equality.

Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

Jul 24, 2014

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often ...

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.