KSU researchers could impact police work

Nathan Havenner

Researchers at Kent State University are starting a two-and-a-half year investigation into urban crime in Northeast Ohio, made possible by a $474,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department.

The research team will be led by Eric Jefferis, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences, who said the research is only made possible through the grant.

“We have done some of this research without money but we have been limited in the scope of what we could do,” Jefferis said. “This grant allows us to do a very thorough and longitudinal two-and-a-half year study which we would not have been able to do without the funding.”

Jefferis said that the team would look deeply into what causes crime in urban neighborhoods.

“We are using some new technology and methods to look at neighborhoods that are in a state of decline or perhaps regeneration to determine what are some indicators of decline, indicators of crime and disorder,” he said.

 The main difference between the Kent State research project and any other research involving neighborhoods violence is they are looking closer than ever before. Rather than looking at statistics about crime they have decided to investigate further.

“We are getting geo-narratives from people who live in those neighborhoods and work there,” Jefferis said.

Jefferis said people who have previously committed crimes in the areas he is researching are speaking out and helping his team understand why crimes are occurring in those specific areas.

A significant part of the research being conducted involves understanding the sociological aspects of the crimes occurring in urban neighborhoods.

“Our analysis and our data collection is going to be looking at the micro level more than other researchers have looked at,” Jefferis said. “We are getting down to the address level to look at signs of disorder or protective factors as well.”

Jefferis said the completed research could be beneficial for area law enforcement agencies.

Officer Michquel Penn of Kent State University Police Services said it is exciting that this research is being done at Kent State University because it will be an asset for law enforcement, including University police.

The data complied, Penn said, would assist in the prediction of future crime trends.

“This type of information combined with the efforts of law enforcement agencies has the potential to reduce crimes in certain areas and prevent it in others,” Penn said.

Contact Nathan J. Havenner at [email protected].