Police Department Using Internet Site so Residents can Track Reports
By Patrick Cronin
Herald Sunday, Sunday, May 3, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
Hampton residents can now access via the Internet with a click of a mouse "near real-time" maps that show them exactly what crimes are occurring in the town — and where.
The Hampton Police Department has joined departments nationwide in partnering with CrimeReports.com.
The free Web site overlays police reports on maps, so people can view where police calls have been made. Arrests are not included.
Users can also receive automatically via e-mail a notice if a crime occurs in their street or neighborhood.
Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said his department joined the Web site to provide more information to the public.
"We have had a number of inquiries from residents asking about crime logs and crime reports," said Sullivan. "People wanted the ability to see what was happening in their neighborhood."
While police logs are printed in local newspapers, Sullivan said, people wanted more information to pinpoint what is going on their neighborhood.
"This seemed like a perfect fit for us to get this information out there for folks who are interested," Sullivan said.
While the site is free to the public, police departments pay to extract the information from their internal systems and publish it online.
Sullivan said they are using grant money from the department's forfeiture fund to participate in the program.
Information provided to the site includes only the preliminary call type, date of call, time and just a block address to protect the caller's privacy.
The site allows you look up crimes and activity for the past three days, the past week, the past two weeks or the past month.
You can also sort by type of crime whether it be an assault, robbery, theft of a vehicle or sex assaults. In the month of April, according to the site, there have been four assaults in Hampton and 12 thefts.
Click on "Analytics" on the main page, and then scroll down to "Hampton Police Department" on the list of all jurisdictions nationally, and you can sort crimes by number, percentage and trend.
"You can also look and see what crimes were reported on your street and also compare crime statistics to other communities that are on crimereports.com," Sullivan said.
He said the response from the community about the new tool has been positive.
The department, he said, initially signed up for a 30-day free trial, liked what it saw, and decided to implement it.
He heard about the site from the Rochester Police Department as well as at a conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
"We are still doing some tweaking because the data the site uses (from our department) in one category, vehicle recovery, is being reported wrong," Sullivan said. "We don't have that much vehicle recovery going on."
Other than that, the data is pretty accurate, Sullivan said.
Crimereports.com was founded in 2006 with goal of empowering the community to make informed decisions to help improve the safety of their families, friends, property and the community at large.