Murder Spreads Through a City Like an Infection
Murder is more like an infection than a random act, according to a new study. This may help police contain a city’s homicide rate, through better understanding of where future murders are more likely to occur.
Researchers from Michigan State University analyzed statistics on nearly 2,400 Newark, New Jersey, homicides that occurred over a span of almost 30 years. They found that acts of murder appear to spread through an area in a way similar to that of the flu virus: first by attacking vulnerable spots, then moving on to nearby locations, eventually leaving the original neighborhood completely. For example, the murder trend first taking place in the middle of the city seems to move south and then west, before leaving altogether and starting fresh in a new locale.
These findings could help law enforcement identify murder hotspots. “By using the principles of infectious disease control, we may be able to predict the spread of homicide and reduce the incidence of this crime,” said April Zeoli, public health researcher in MSU’s School of Criminal Justice.
Interestingly, the study also found areas in Newark that had been completely murder-free for more than 25 years. “If we could discover why some of those communities are resistant, we could work on increasing the resistance of our communities that are more susceptible to homicide,” said Zeoli.
However, only time will tell if this research will be the key to a real time ‘Minority Report.’