How many time have you heard someone describe a section of a city as a a high crime area without providing any data to support that designation.  What is the definition of ”area”? Is it a police district? A police patrol area? A particular street or intersection? Is it a radius of some established distance around where an incident occurred?

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson and Damien Bernache, The ”High-Crime Area” Question: Requiring Verifiable and Quantifiable Evidence for Fourth Amendment Reasonable Suspicion Analysis, 57 American University Law Review 1587 (2008) provide guidance regarding use of the term high crime area.

The article contends that data should be used to establish three component parts. First, it must show that the area in question is marked by a high incidence of particularized criminal activity in comparison to other areas. Second, the area must be narrowly defined geographically and the data used must be recent. Third, there should be proof of a connection between the statistics and the determination of high crime area.

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