In tribute to Halloween, Dr. Angela Hawken, Director of the Marron Institute’s Litmus Program, and her team recently partnered with their “pracademics” to investigate the relationship between the full moon and crime, an area where previous research evidence has been mixed. They kicked off a three-country study, partnering with police departments in the US, Canada, and Mexico to analyze their calls-for-service and case data over the phases of the moon.
The first study began with the Vallejo, CA police department. The results demonstrated no association between crime events and phases of the moon. To make sure North America was represented, replication studies were conducted with the Barrie (Ontario) Police Service in Canada and the Irapuato Citizen Safety Secretariat in Mexico. These results also suggested that there was no association. Although these kinds of analyses are fun, the findings have practical implications for policing such as in developing staffing assignments and distribution of other law-enforcement resources. The bottom line is be vigilant in questioning your assumptions and use your data to explore. It might just surprise you.