Risk Narratives

Risk narratives convey the contexts and opportunities for crime at particular places and times.

A risk narrative is like a story about how crime incidents connect to places. It accounts for how people interact at and around particular places to create opportunities for crime at specific times. Risk narratives help police and other community stakeholders talk spatially about crime events and illegal behaviors, and how to prevent crimes by focusing on the settings that are most vulnerable to them.

For example, when community leaders used data-informed risk narratives to communicate how drugs, retail businesses, and vacant properties are related to gun violence, they were more likely to agree with police that certain places will probably experience shooting incidents in the future. This led to conversations about how best to deploy resources to address the problems at these locations. That is, to disrupt the risk narrative and prevent crime with a focus on places, not people.

Areas around laundromats received directed police patrols; police officer ‘meet-and-greets’ with convenience store managers were implemented at frequent intervals each day; and the city’s Planning Department prioritized remediation of vacant properties and installations of new LED street lights (to replace dimmer halogen bulbs) at the highest risk places.

Risk narratives enable effective risk governance. They help police and other city officials articulate crime problems in diverse ways, beyond those tied to established paradigms and programming. They empower several agencies to coordinate their efforts and share the burden of crime prevention. Risk narratives add context to data and establish a working hypothesis for responsive action.

Risk terrain modeling (RTM) informs risk narratives. RTM analysis identifies place features that connect with crime patterns. RTMDx software makes RTM easy, and helps you share risk narratives to bring practical meaning to the analytic results. This facilitates data-informed discussions to build consensus for the best approaches to problem-solving and prevention.

Risk narratives help prevent crime while meeting community expectations

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