Social demographics of crime in a military community in the United States

Abstract

Prior research has focused on relationships between the socio-demographics of a neighborhood and neighborhood crime levels. The current study contributes to the growing body of neighborhoods and crime research by examining socio-demographics of neighborhoods in a new context – a military community. Military communities provide an interesting context in which to study the connection between socio-demographic features and crime as they tend to be tightly knit, with strong informal and formal ties. This research adds to the neighborhoods and crime research by exploring the influence of the larger context in which neighborhoods are imbedded. The results demonstrate that certain socio-demographic indicators correlate with crime in a manner that is consistent with that found in past research, but that relationship is amplified when models include measurement of the percentage of residents who are military service members. Implications for research and theory are discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This study focuses on military communities surrounding military bases, and does not include behaviors or observations of patterns of behavior on the military base itself. This is difficult information to access because of security and other restrictions. The focus of the current study is the adjacent communities where the military service members live, not the military base itself.

  2. 2.

    The majority of military service members (approximately half including enlisted and officers) are concentrated in the lowest four enlisted ranks. These individuals have yearly incomes ranging from $15 616 (for an E-1 in the first year of service) to $23 230 (for an E-4 with at least 4 years of service) before taxes at the time this study was completed. Source: Military pay tables available at: www.dfas.mil/militarypay/2006militarypaytables/2007MilitaryPayCharts-1.pdf, accessed September 2013. The poverty threshold for 2006 was $13 500 for a two-adult household with no children, $16 227 for a household with one child, $20 444 for a household with two children and $24 059 for a household with three children.Source: US Census Poverty Threshold Guidelines available at: www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/thresh06.html.

  3. 3.

    For example, the author was in a military family from 1999 to 2009 and moved in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009.

  4. 4.

    The military base block group is excluded as it is difficult to access military crime records. Furthermore, these records would not be comparable to civilian records, and the record-keeping requirements differ on military installations.

  5. 5.

    This research does not test how the additional constraints created by the UCMJ restrictions relate to actual behaviors. Testing the ability of the additional behavioral codes and restrictions imposed by military service standards in the United States is beyond the scope of the current article (though it would make an intriguing study for future researchers). This research was conducted under the theoretical assumption that increased likelihood and opportunity for penalty for unacceptable behaviors would result in the military population being a more controlled population. This theoretical relationship is an important avenue for future researchers to explore.

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Hollis, M. Social demographics of crime in a military community in the United States. Crime Prev Community Saf 18, 122–140 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/cpcs.2016.7

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Keywords

  • neighborhoods and crime
  • environmental criminology
  • spatial analysis
  • communities and crime
  • military criminology