Going Beyond the Blue: The Utility of Emergency Medical Services Data in Understanding Violent Crime

Julie Hibdon, Cody W. Telep, Jessica Huff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


National victimization data suggest less than 50% of violent crime incidents are reported to the police. Official reports of crime to police, however, are often the only type of data used for the analysis of violence problems, the identification of geographic concentrations of violent crime, and the selection of targets for police and prevention resources. Yet, the question remains, are estimates of violent crime prevalence and location distorted from a unilateral reliance on police data? Here, we examine whether emergency medical service (EMS) data collected by the fire department are spatially concentrated in the same way as police data and whether these data can help identify instances of violence unreported to police in the city of Seattle between 2009 and 2011. We find high levels of concentration in both police and EMS data and evidence that new information is learned about the location of violence problems from utilizing multiple data sources. Overall, these findings contribute to a small but growing body of work that demonstrates the utility of nonconventional data in the identification of crime and harm concentrations of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-211
Number of pages22
JournalCriminal Justice Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • ambulance
  • crime concentration
  • emergency medical services
  • hot spots
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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