Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Filling in the Gaps – The Domestic Violence Project

In 2014, Maryland’s total domestic violence reports were at 27,242, according to the 2014 Uniform Crime Report. And the Washington College GIS Program works with the story behind those numbers.

Allie Gorman
Allie Gorman

“I’m really interested in learning how everything works in order to help identify issues or improvements that can be made,” GIS Analyst Allie Gorman said.

Her interest in learning how things work and solving the puzzle to make improvements is what drew her to working with domestic violence information in the lab. 

“While I was a student, I worked on the domestic violence project,” Gorman explained. Gorman graduated in May 2015 after having worked with GIS for her entire college career. After her graduation, she took classes to get her Crime Analysis Certificate and she was drawn the different domestic violence projects in particular.

The team, funded by a grant from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), working on this  project is comprised of Gorman and students Brian Gicking, Stephen McFall, Aaron Compton, and Lynn Diferndinando.

Right now, the team deals with several different projects that relate to domestic violence.

For one aspect of the domestic violence work, the team receives 9B forms – monthly domestic violence incident reports from Maryland State Police.

“So my understanding is every law enforcement agency that has a domestic violence incident fills out this form and sends it to the Maryland State Police,” Gorman said.
The team has to wait until the police receive a whole year’s worth of incidents before the Program gets the reports in the paper form.

“Currently, we are working on 2014 and we just enter them into the access database and once they are all entered and are all checked multiple times, we geocode per census tract, by zip code and we look at a standard deviation and percent population,” she explained.

Gorman said that aside from that work, they also have a team working with the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence.

“Mid-Shore deals primarily with the victims of domestic violence and they serve five counties on the Eastern Shore: Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester,” Gorman said.

Mid-Shore is interested in the welfare of the victims and what kind of services they are receiving. The team hopes that by looking at the client information, they can identify the gaps in the services provided to victims and then make strides to fill those areas.

“Eventually, we are planning to look at domestic incidents from the form 9B and comparing victim addresses that the Mid-Shore provides and also comparing them to the Lethality Screenings that are preformed,” she said.

Working on this project connects her interest in making improvements to her GIS work.

“For so long we only looked at the crime side of it and now we have another angle or perspective looking at the victims,” she said. “So working with the Mid-Shore is really fascinating, because we just started and we are seeing gaps and hopefully with our analysis maybe new policies can be implemented so that these gaps aren’t as prominent.”

A new project is also just beginning to come together, and while Gorman isn’t too sure about the details, she’s looking forward to getting started with the Montgomery County Police Department and continuing to use her GIS skills to assist in helping police better take care of domestic violence cases.

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