Drug Activity and Crime Rate Change: A Spatiotemporal Examination
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
With that being said, although Goldstein's (1985) seminal piece on the drugs-crime nexus has been a mainstay in the drugs and crime literature, communities and crime studies in criminology have largely neglected and left under-theorized how drugs and crime may be related across time and space. While studies examining the drugs-crime nexus have found a robust relationship at the city-level, few have examined whether such a relationship holds up at a smaller geographic scale. So, such studies may lack a theoretical focus on how drug activity may relate to crime and place. Still further, the few studies examining whether drug activity and neighborhood crime are related have been cross-sectional, thereby limiting inferences regarding the causal nature of the ecological relationship between drugs and crime. Accordingly, these studies have also not theorized the temporal scaling underpinning the drug activity and neighborhood crime association. And, equally important, researchers have yet to assess whether the larger social context moderates such a relationship.
We build on the literature on the drugs-crime nexus in the following ways. Using Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Part I and Part II address-level incident data provided by the Miami-Dade Police Department, we estimate longitudinally the monthly and cumulative lagged impact that drug activity has on crime rate change in census blocks in the largely unincorporated areas of Miami-Dade County, Florida. What's more, we assess whether the assaultive violence produced in blocks with more drug activity spills over into nearby blocks, implying a spatial diffusion process, which heretofore has been unexplored—and hence, untheorized—in prior literature on the drugs-crime nexus. Moreover, we assess whether the larger social context moderates the drugs-crime relationship. In light of our findings, implications and avenues for future research will be discussed.