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Dr. Joel Caplan

Professor and M.A. Program Director


Ph.D. (2008) University of Pennsylvania

Office Location

CLJ, 548

Areas of Specialization

Crime (Analysis & Prevention)
Environmental Criminology
GIS Mapping
Risk Terrain Modeling

Joel Caplan helps cities and towns prevent crime and improve community policing. He helps them make data-informed decisions about policies and programs that enhance public safety. Dr. Caplan is a Professor at Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) and serves as Director of the SCJ Master’s Program and Director of the Rutgers Center on Public Security (RCPS). He specializes in GIS mapping and crime pattern analysis, and co-developed Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM), a spatial diagnostic technique that connects environmental features to crime locations. RTM helps people develop the best strategies for crime deterrence and prevention. Dr. Caplan has professional experience as a police officer, 9-1-1 dispatcher and emergency medical technician. His research on communities, crime and policing empowers multiple stakeholders with evidence to maximize resources and create safer and more secure environments. Dr. Caplan has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and two books, “Risk-Based Policing: Evidence-Based Crime Prevention with Big Data and Spatial Analytics” (2018) and “Risk Terrain Modeling: Crime Prevention and Risk Reduction” (2016). He earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (2008) and is also a proud alumnus of Rutgers University (2004).








Recent & Key Publications

Caplan, J.M., Neudecker, C.H.*, Kennedy, L.W., Barnum, J.D. and Drawve, G. (2020). Tracking risk for crime throughout the day: An Examination of Jersey City robberies. Criminal Justice Review. December 2021.

Berryessa, C. M., & Caplan, J. M. (2020). Cognitive and affective processing of risk information: A Survey experiment on risk-based decision-making related to crime and public safety. Frontiers in Psychology

Drawve, G.,  Kennedy, L. W., Caplan, J. M. & Sarkos, J. (2020, online first). Risk of robbery in a tourist destination: A monthly examination of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Journal of Place Management and Development.

Caplan, J. M., Kennedy, L. W., & Neudecker, C. H. (2020, online first). Cholera deaths in Soho, London, 1854: Risk terrain modeling for epidemiological investigations. PLOS ONE, 1-11.

Boxer, P., Drawve, G., & Caplan, J. M. (2020, online first). Neighborhood Violent Crime and Academic Performance: A Geospatial Analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 1-10.

Caplan, J. M., Kennedy, L. W., Piza, E. L. & Barnum, J. D. (2019). Using vulnerability and exposure to improve robbery prediction and target area selection. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, 1-24. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281670034

Drawve, G., Caplan, J. M., & Ostermann, M. (2019). Utilizing a risk of crime measure for recidivism research: Moving environmental corrections forward. Crime & Delinquency, 65, 606-629.

Caplan, J. M., Kennedy, L. W. & Piza, E. L.(2018).  Risk-Based Policing:  Evidence-Based Crime Prevention with Big Data and Spatial Analytics.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Feng, S., Piza, E. L., Kennedy, L. W., & Caplan, J. M.  (2018). Aggravating effects of alcohol outlet types on street robbery and aggravated assault in New York City. Journal of Crime and Justice, 42, 257-273.

Caplan, J. M. & Kennedy, L. W. (2016). Risk terrain modeling: Crime prediction and risk reduction. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.