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Professor uses social networks to deter crime

September 16th, 2013 · No Comments · Academic programs, Academic units, Divisions, Departments and Centers, Faculty, Staff, Students

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Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Just ask Andrew Fox, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. He’s part of a team that is using peer pressure to deter crime in Kansas City.

Fox will present his research at the upcoming four-day Attorney General’s Urban Crime Summit. Attorney General Chris Koster recently announced the Summit as a way to “explore meaningful responses to the high rate of urban crime facing metropolitan areas in Missouri.” The first two days of the Summit will take place in UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium, 5000 Holmes, Kansas City, Mo. The remainder of the Summit will take place in St. Louis.

Both St. Louis and Kansas City consistently rank in the top 10 nationally for high levels of violent crime. But UMKC researchers in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology have partnered with local, state and federal law enforcement to reverse that trend.

For his part, Fox creates social networks for Kansas City’s No Violence Alliance’s Focus Deterrence project based on information he obtains from law enforcement. The relationship map he creates helps law enforcement see the social structure of violent groups. From there, law enforcement officers intervene. In some cases, officers will offer the person the proper social services they’ll need to get out of violent crime. He has also been training crime analysts on how to create social networks and incorporate this technology into other aspects of their job.

In more severe cases, law enforcement will notify the entire social group that if one person in the group commits a crime, the rest of the group will be under scrutiny as well – either for parole violations, owed child support, or other violations.

Similar models have been successfully implemented in Boston, Chicago, and a number of other major cities. This model is still relatively new to Kansas City. Fox will discuss the model as part of a panel discussion from 1-2 p.m. on Sept. 16 in UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium.

 

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