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Port Orchard police debut online crime mapping

CrimeReports maps out where criminal activity has occurred.   - Courtesy photo
CrimeReports maps out where criminal activity has occurred.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Thanks to Port Orchard’s newest online crime-fighting tool, not only will the police department have a comprehensive picture of what crimes are happening where around the city, but so will its residents.

Known as “CrimeReports,” the new software maps out various crimes across the city with user-friendly tools that, with one mouse click, can tell you the location and the type of crime.

“In the past, we used one of our department volunteers to actually map out crimes for a month, put those into a PDF document and place them on the city’s website for citizens to use,” said Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend. “It was done monthly, so needless to say it wasn’t very timely and the map didn’t provide any details of the crime. 

“Even though it was an antiquated way to provide information,” he noted, “it was more than any other agency was doing in the county.” 

CrimeReports, meanwhile, works with almost 800 agencies across North America, and is the largest online resource for accurate, up-to-date crime information.

The CrimeReports network offers affordable, easy-to-use software tools for law enforcement agencies to understand crime trends and share current neighborhood crime data with the public.

“I’m pleased that we’ve graduated to a new software program that maps all of our crimes directly out of our records-management system every 24 hours,” said Townsend. “You can scan the city for crimes from the last day, last three days, last week or last month. And when you see something of interest, you can actually click on that icon and it will display details about the crime.

“The entire mapping system is interactive,” he explained. “In addition, if you really have an interest in crime trends in your community, you can go to the analytics page and see graphs and other analysis options for crimes in the city. 

“This is a huge step in sharing information with the public about things happening in their neighborhoods and in their city,” Townsend said. “This puts us on par with agencies 10 times our size.”

Residents, too, can access the integrated crime map and receive e-mail crime alerts for free at www.CrimeReports.com, empowering them to make informed decisions to help improve the safety of their neighborhood and community.

Townsend said, “We’ve been planning and implementing the new software for about the last two months. It went live about two weeks ago and we’ve been using that time to test it. It went on the city website early this week.

By knowing of the events within a persons neighborhood they can adjust their own behaviors to help prevent crime. 

As an example, if a resident logs on and sees that over the last two weeks there have been several thefts of property from motor vehicles in their neighborhood, they may want to be more cautious by removing valuable items from their vehicle, parking in the garage, leaving a light on, etc. 

“This new tool gives them the ability to see this information quickly and conveniently.

Townsend also cited the cost-effectiveness of this program. “It does mean that we can spend less staff and volunteer time creating basic crime maps by hand,” he said. “It also provides a crime analysis function for officers and detectives and administration to use to better predict crime trends and patterns. Most of the crime mapping we were doing was already electronic but it was labor intensive. Now we can better use our volunteers and paid staff time for other projects.”

The full link for CrimeReports is http://www.cityofportorchard.us/crime-mapping.

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