Spatio-temporal analysis of violent crime and alcohol outlets in Buffalo, NY
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Research has shown that geographical relationships exist between alcohol outlets (e.g., bars, restaurants, mini-markets) and alcohol-related problems (e.g., DWI, violence, disease, and community health). Much of this research has been ecological and cross-sectional and therefore cannot point to the etiology of these relationships. Knowledge about the process by which associations between alcohol outlets and problem outcomes emerge will help public health workers and policy makers design more effective intervention and prevention strategies. A social-ecological theory proposed by Gruenewald posits that there is a dynamic relationship between bars and consumers which causes bar patrons to sort themselves into similar groups (e.g., young males or students) across available bars. This sorting leads to a spatial association between alcohol outlets and problem outcomes if particular groups are predisposed to problem behaviors. This study explored this dynamic by determining whether there is space-time clustering between the changing landscape of bars and incidence of violent crime. Results from global and local space-time K-function analyses indicated that there was clustering between crimes and bars over space and time. These findings give some indication of the etiology of the spatial association between alcohol outlets and crime and are a step toward advancing the social-ecological theory.