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UNA Leads Justice Department Research On Crime After Hurricanes
Oct. 30, 2009



FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama has received a $350,000 grant from the Department of Justice to research patterns of crime during disaster and disaster-recovery periods. The research is for Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.

The joint research project involves UNA’s departments of geography, criminal justice and sociology. There are eight students working on the project, as well.

The research team will specifically research crime during the recovery period of Hurricane Lili (2002), Hurricane Isabel (2003), Hurricane Ivan (2004) and Hurricane Wilma (2005). Cities being analyzed for crime patterns are Mobile, Miami, Pensacola, Boca Raton and Rocky Mount, N.C.

“We want to know how crime patterns are associated with disaster and how they change through time after a disaster in the recovery phase,” said Dr. Lisa Keys-Mathews, principle investigator and associate professor of geography. “The long-term goal is to develop a model for police organizations to use that will help them make decisions regarding policing effort by location.”

Keys-Mathews said preliminary research shows that type of crime and crime patterns change during the recovery period after an environmental disaster. Some research shows that there is a rise in domestic violence, alcohol- and drug-related crimes, possession of stolen property, and prostitution after a disaster.

Keys-Mathews began working on the project part-time beginning in January 2009 and will be a full-time UNA researcher starting in January 2010. Other faculty from the departments of sociology, criminal justice and geography work on the project, as well.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Keys-Mathews at 256-765-4640 or lkeysmathews@una.edu.