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Revisiting the Spatial Analysis of Crime in National Forests

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We examined spatial patterns of crime incidents in national forests covering 112,396 km2 in the northwestern United States. In this study we analyzed a database containing 40,003 spatially referenced crime incidents representing felonies, infractions, and misdemeanors during 2 calendar years (2003–2004) at several geographic scales. We applied several geospatial analytical techniques including quadrat analysis, nearest neighbor analysis (NNA), and nearest neighbor hierarchical (NNH) clustering to investigate crime incident spatial patterning. These geospatial tools were beneficial in identifying crime incident relationships contained within a large, complex spatial database. NNH clustering identified 15 regional clusters with 16,138 crime incidents, focused in the central portion of Oregon's national forests, specifically in the Deschutes, Mount Hood, and Willamette National Forests. Subsequent NNA tests confirmed spatial patterning in all three forests. Closer examination of a confirmed hot spot in one forest revealed a recreation corridor with adjacent recreation destination amenities and a large proximate metropolitan area, a combination of circumstances not apparent at the initial regional analysis scale. Other spatial data layers, such as transportation, urban boundaries, and water bodies, augmented our ability to understand, interpret, and validate geospatial analysis results. Spatial statistical analysis of crime incidents provides managers with a better understanding of the relationships between crime patterns, natural resources, and human built environments/infrastructure. Spatial statistical analysis can contribute to natural resource law enforcement as the basis for a decision support system. Decision support efforts include identifying places where crime is prevalent and determining where crime occurs with greatest frequency.
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Keywords: US Forest Service; crime; geospatial analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.675 (Rank 20/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 39.6 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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