Chicago Police Target Most Violent Gang in Harrison District
Social Network Analysis Aides Efforts to Dismantle Gang Network
Chicago Police Department press release , 2011-02-13
Superintentent Weis emphasized the utility of Social Network Analysis for identifying perpetrators of violence so that gang factions may be dismantled. The Analysis also reveals the relationships between victims and offenders in shooting and homicide incidents, highlighting that both parties often are known to each other through personal disputes, and that violence is not random but intentional. … Social Network Analysis effectively enables law enforcement to identify at-risk individuals and make appropriate outreach.
Weis said the department has built a social network database that combines gang, vice and patrol officers’ insights at the street level and arrest data to show links between gang members, helping the department to better target enforcement.
University of Massachusetts sociologist Andrew V. Papachristos, who has studied Chicago gangs for his graduate research at the University of Chicago, said social network analysis has been successful in crime reduction efforts in smaller cities such as Boston and Cincinnati.
“We use the words ‘crime epidemic.’ … Well, if it is an epidemic, it should follow certain rules as to how it spreads,” Papachristos said.
Police are using what they call social network analysis. It starts with what street cops know, then that gets analyzed by computer which compares crime patterns and arrests going back in time.
“One thing we know about crime is it’s a lot like sex: who you mess around with is going to get you into trouble,” said Harvard Professor Andrew Papachristos.