Parker focuses on the causes and preventions of violence as well as the relationship between violence and alcohol/drug abuse. He has been associated with the Presley Center and Professor of Sociology at UCR since 1996. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and chapters on topics including the causes of violence, the relationship between alcohol, other drugs, and violence, alcohol and drug policy and violence prevention, and research design and statistical methods in the social sciences. He has taught criminology, sociology, research design and statistical analysis at the University of Akron, Rutgers University, and the University of Iowa. Parker also directed a number of federal and private foundation research projects on the relationship between alcohol use and abuse and violence at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, Calif., a nonaffiliated, nonprofit research center focused on the relationship between alcohol and social/behavioral problems.
On Alcohol and Underage Drinking
Maintaining the age to legally consume alcohol at 21 is an effective intervention that significantly reduced harm and death among young people. Under the higher drinking age, the proportion of 18-year-olds who drink has declined 14 percent since 1991; for those aged 16, the decline is 23 percent, and for those age 12, the decline is a significant 38 percent.
On Alcohol and Violence
Amending existing laws or adopting additional regulations to limit the availability of alcohol — a practice known as environmental prevention — would reduce community violence, Parker says. Alcohol plays a powerful role in U.S. social and cultural life, and has since colonial times, despite decades of research documenting that it is more dangerous and physically destructive than heroin and cocaine, and is a significant factor in violent crime. Changing the physical environment in which alcohol is acquired and consumed — such as limiting the number of liquor stores in a neighborhood, banning the sale of 40-ounce containers of beer, or banning the sale of alcohol entirely — has been proven to reduce violent crime, he says.
In a unique collaboration with the Indio Police Department, Parker developed a computer model that predicts, by census block group, where burglaries are likely to occur. Using the model, the Indio department has developed interventions to address the problem, and can better anticipate hot spots of criminal activity and deploy officers accordingly. The result is an 8 percent decline in thefts in the first nine months of 2013.