Activity Areas

Data Collection and Definition of the Data Set

One of the most crucial and most time consuming activities of the Center for Homicide Research is its construction of databases. These are necessary if we are to answer practical questions about homicide investigation and prevention. The variety of data collected thus far has spanned the gamut from 55 cases to over 3,000 homicides; from church shootings to the homicide of sexual minorities.

Current datasets in progress include the National Database of GLBT Homicide. GLBT is short for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. This project involves identifying each homicide in the United States that contains a homosexual or transsexual element. Incidents range from 1969 (birth of the Modern Gay Movement) to present. Each incident is subsequently searched out using open-source data collection. The results are then coded into concept variables that can be easily analyzed using automated computer systems. The national database contains over 230 variables used to describe each incident. This database has already been used by law enforcement at both regional and federal levels and is the subject of ongoing research of sharp-edged weapons at the FBI.

Data are gathered using a process called Open Source Data-collection. Information is collected from a number of sources, including vital statistics, law enforcement and court records, media reports, and other open or publicly available sources of data.  Other data is also accessed that is not publicly available, depending on the goal of each research topic

Because sexual identity is not recorded in homicide statistics and may not have been made public in media and court records, the Center’s researchers have developed indicators that help identify cases of GLBT homicide.

Analysis and Articulation of Research Findings

From the National GLBT dataset and other information, Center for Homicide Research researchers are developing the first, comprehensive analysis of LGBT homicide in the United States. These findings will…

  • Identify the prevalence of LGBT homicide over the past 30 years (currently estimated at ~3%)
  • Analyze law enforcement investigations, including solvability and offender sentencing
  • Develop patterns and commonalities among the identified gay homicide victims and their cases
  • Present theories about the nature of offending in gay homicide incidents

The goal of the Center is to present these findings nationally through peer-reviewed journals and at conferences of criminologists, victimologists, crime victim advocates, law enforcement professionals, gay community leaders, etc. The Center aims to ensure that its research and findings are readily available to all that could be impacted by them.

Presentation of Findings and Training

The Center for Homicide Research will develop educational materials and programs designed to educate the gay community, law enforcement and criminal justice personnel, and the public about issues and topics related to gay homicide. CHR researchers will also develop materials and information for crime victim advocates for other interested members of the community about the issue of gay homicide.

Research papers, presentations and works-in-progress reports have been presented at a variety of national and international conference over the last 7 years.  Presentations have occurred at meetings of the following groups:

  • American Society of Criminology
  • Homicide Research Working Group
  • Midwest Sociological Society
  • Midwest Qualitative Research Conference
  • Sociologists of Minnesota

In total, more than 180 presentations and trainings have occurred over the last several years in nearly a dozen states.  For information on booking a training, contact Dallas Drake at dallas.drake@homicidecenter.org or by telephone at (612) 331-4820.

The Center anticipates a range of educational options including workshops, “peer trainings” and the media. The Center will work closely with other organizations to ensure the widest dissemination of this information.

Publications

In addition, papers have been published in the proceedings of several conferences and are in process for publication at peer-reviewed journals.

In January 2004, Marcel Dekker, Inc. published the Handbook of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Administration and Policy edited by Wallace Swan, Ph.D.  This Handbook includes a chapter on homosexual homicide by Dallas Drake, principal researcher at the Center for Homicide Research; and a chapter about GLBT crime co-authored by Wallace Swan, Ph.D.  This is an under-researched area with far-reaching implications for all types of homicide.

Professional Development

For the Center to be successful, researchers must become and remain knowledgeable of the published research studies of criminology and victimology. Researchers will be involved in the study of research methodology and related topics, professional discussions, conferences and workshops, and accredited course work.

Through professional development activities, the Center will develop a broad-based peer network of experts in criminology and victimology. This network will be critical in fostering awareness and understanding of the Center’s research and to continually evaluate its progress.

Networking and Consultation/Case Review Services

The Center is establishing working relationships with various public and non-profit organizations to gather needed information and provide consultation on specific cases. CHR researchers also review suspicious deaths and potential homicide cases with respect to the potential of an unidentified gay homicide, or to assist in directing or problem-solving in the investigation. Referrals for confidential case reviews come from law enforcement officials, criminal justice professionals or advocates of nonprofit organizations.