Risk Balance & Security


Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot & Leslie W. Kennedy

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    To Jim, Giorgia, Paige, Jesse, and grandparents


    To Ilona, Alexis, Andrea, and grandparents


    View Copyright Page


    This book was originally conceived at the time that risk was becoming of central interest in criminology. Increasingly, scholars recognized that individual decisions by offenders and victims involved a risk calculation. At the same time, law enforcement was increasing its focus on technological solutions to enhance risk management. With the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, and the rapid surge of concern about terrorism, law enforcement was quickly caught up in a new enterprise, responding to national threats while continuing to operate at local levels. Interestingly, the shift that had taken place toward risk management provided an awareness of the value of information, intelligence, interdepartmental cooperation, and strategic awareness, themes with which policing agencies had become familiar, along with the increasing demands for police accountability and community engagement. The law enforcement community became a central point around which risk management and preparedness developed, ranging from emergency management in natural disasters, to public health threats, to challenges that face the economy. In addition, the public was mobilized to prepare and to remain vigilant in the face of threats, and people were challenged to form their own assessments of personal risk, including evaluations about threats in their surroundings and their environment.

    In preparing this book, we established that individuals and agencies cannot simply respond with endless resources to mitigate the damage that hazards create: they have to find a balance in managing risk. Our focuses are the processes and structures in the establishing of this balance in crime, terrorism, disasters, and threats to a nation's health. We believe that we have taken some important steps in improving our understanding of how risk runs through all decisions that are made about threats and hazards. With a new understanding of how risk balance works, and how it has been applied in our preparedness, prevention, and response strategies, we will be able to better conceptualize our task of enhancing future security.

    As we followed the risk thread, we found that it wound its way through many different topics and many different disciplines. A product of our interest in security is the realization that the study of it is profoundly interdisciplinary. While we would argue that our primary target audience for this book is criminal justice students interested in new topics in public security, we realize that there are many other groups (for instance, those in public health, disaster research, and security studies) who will come away from this book with a better understanding of how their interests fit into a larger risk perspective. We have tried to do justice to these many sources of information and points of view, but we realize that there is still much work to do in explaining these ideas to a broader audience. We believe that the research needed in this area must start now, beginning with a detailed assessment of the ideas promulgated by agencies developing programs and spending large amounts of money in ways that have not been held up to careful scrutiny. This evaluation does not presume that other approaches to security are poorly conceived or malintentioned: only that these should be reviewed for their effectiveness, using the standards of risk assessment laid out in this book.


    The authors would like to thank Jerry Westby and his staff at Sage Publications for providing encouragement and support throughout this project. They would also like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their initial support of the “Contexts of Risk” project.

    Erin would like to thank Les for his unfailing enthusiasm and steady stream of great ideas. Leslie-Anne Keown, Jay Laurendeau, Gillian Ranson, Gus Brannigan, and Daniel Béland deserve special mention for their good humor, advice and friendship. She thanks Jim, who has balanced exceptionally well the demands of three kids and the demands of a book-writing partner. Giorgia, Paige, and Jesse have been extremely patient with their mother and provide daily reminders of who and what really counts.

    Les starts with his admiration for Erin for her patience, resolve, and, of course, real scholarly talent. He would like to thank the staff, students, and faculty at Rutgers School of Criminal Justice for their support. In particular, he thanks Norm Samuels for his moral and intellectual guidance; Steve Diner for his support for the Center for Public Security and other initiatives at SCJ; Louise Stanton for her fine work for the Center; and Bil, Thomas, Edith, Deborah, Cheryl, LaWanda, Teresa, Sandra, and Irene, who tolerated his occasional absences to let him get this work done. His friend Mark Anarumo deserves special mention as someone who has taught him a lot about security and golf. Of course, Ilona, Alexis, and Andrea get special thanks: he learns something new from each of them every day. Finally, a special bow to his Dad for soldiering on so well, his brother Trev for helping him so much, and to his late Mom for providing such a great model to live by.

    Finally, the authors are most grateful for the reviewers who spent considerable time providing quality feedback and expertise during the development phase: Dave Andersen, Minnesota State Community and Technical College; Tom Birkland, University at Albany, State University of New York; Chris Demchak, University of Arizona; Ralph Garris; University of South Carolina, Lancaster; Pam Griset, University of Central Florida; James L. Jengeleski, Shippensburg University; Matthew Lippman; University of Illinois at Chicago; Gus Martin, California State University, Dominguez Hills; Peter J. May, University of Washington; David A. McEntire University of North Texas; Jeryl Mumpower, University at Albany, State University of New York; Tom O'Connor, Austin Peay State University at Fort Campbell; Terrence O'Sullivan, Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), University of Southern California; Gary R. Perlstein, Portland State University; and William L. Waugh, Jr., Georgia State University.

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    About the Authors

    Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot has been at the University of Calgary for the past eight years, the last two years as Associate Dean (Academic Programs) in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Dr. Van Brunschot received her PhD from the University of Alberta, and her BA and MA degrees from the University of Calgary.

    Dr. Van Brunschot's research interests have included prostitution, violence, and risk taking, with publications in each of these areas. More recently, Dr. Van Brunschot's research interests have evolved into the areas of risk and security as these relate to both individuals and institutions.

    Leslie W. Kennedy, Professor of Criminal Justice, served as Dean of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice from 1998 to 2007. He received his BA from McGill University, his MA from the University of Western Ontario, and his PhD from the University of Toronto. Dr. Kennedy has published extensively in the areas of fear of crime, victimology, and violence. Among his published works, he is the coauthor with Vince Sacco of The Criminal Event, appearing in its fourth edition this year, in which they advocate a holistic approach to the study of crime in social context. In addition, he has published extensively on spatial and temporal analysis of crime patterns.

    Dr. Kennedy's current research in public security builds on his previous research in event analysis and understanding the social contexts in which hazards to society are identified and deterred. He has recently published (with Cynthia Lum and Alison Sherley) an extensive review of counterterrorism studies in the Journal of Experimental Criminology.

    Dr. Kennedy is currently the Director of the Rutgers Center for the Study of Public Security. The Center's primary focuses are to conduct original analytical and objective research on how risk assessment can be applied to the study of security, and to inform public policy discussions in this area.

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