The Center for Homicide Research exists “to serve as a catalyst for homicide prevention and homicide case clearance through empirical research, with a strong focus on under-researched and marginalized populations, and organizational partnerships.”
Building a New Foundation of Knowledge about Homicide
The Center for Homicide Research is developing the foundation of knowledge that will be necessary to solve and prevent all kinds of homicide, including gay homicide. Ultimately this will lead to greater stability of all our communities and ideally achieve more willingness of community members to speak out on issues of communal importance including those regarding core cultural values of inter-group cooperation and peace-building.
The data being developed in this project will be made available in the broadest sense possible. Completed datasets will be placed at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where researchers will be able to access and use the data. Researchers can query the data using their own questions and verify the work of the Center and others. This will ensure that future researchers will have data available for their own investigative work.
The Centers researchers are active in changing the systems which concern homicide research. This is especially true with regard to homicides involving members of emergent communities or subcultures which may be difficult to detect, let alone report. Discussions have been initiated with state and federal information managers to determine when and how to change national data gathering patterns. This involves the Uniform Crime Reports and National Incident-Based Reporting System operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It also includes state-level reporting systems which can produce more rapid changes in the interim. The Center’s research will enable existing agencies to implement changes to their data management policies more effectively, and to see the immediate benefit and uses for the expanded information.
Systems Change for Better Policing and Prosecutions
The Center’s researchers are actively involved with national and international homicide and crime researchers on the topics of homicide and lethal violence, and about the shortcomings of existing statistical data. This has produced substantial support not only for our work, but has also created a greater understanding for the need for further research in this topic area.
The Centers researchers are building relationships between the various emergent or disenfranchised communities (including the LGBT community) and law enforcement professionals. The Center’s personnel regularly interact with law enforcement officers, homicide detectives and investigators. Because the Center shares a common goal with law enforcement and criminal justice professionals to develop a more effective response to homicide the Center can greatly impact the way law enforcement responds to and addresses gay homicide. By assisting law enforcement in their work, the Center builds trust with not only individual departments, but also with the law enforcement community.
The Center’s information and resources are unique, and these tools enable law enforcement to be more effective. Ultimately, the Center aims to have many resources and research it develops incorporated into the training of law enforcement and criminal justice professionals.
Solid research will lead to a clearer understanding of gay homicide, which will enable policy makers to develop better laws and public policy to protect all its citizens and to create safer communities. An understanding of the unique phenomena related to homicide will aid investigation and prosecution of homicide cases for years to come.
Fostering Safer Communities
A more clear understanding of homicide will have a profound impact on minority and disenfranchised communities as well as the larger community. The Center’s research will yield common characteristics among victims, offender patterns, risk behaviors, and other information that can be used to educate community members and advocacy workers about the characteristics of homicide, so that prevention strategies can be developed. In addition, our research may also yield clues to offender patterns so that programs and education can be developed for individuals who are at greatest risk of becoming homicide offenders, thereby preventing homicides.
This information will also have a great impact on the broader community. Every homicide affects the entire community, making everyone feel unsafe. Homicide offenders, once they have killed, are often indiscriminate as to whom they target next. Understanding this niche of homicide will enable the entire community to better respond and react to incidents of homicide. Increased understanding could yield better witnesses, more community involvement in safety programs, and better community-police partnerships.