|Ref: Crime Reports partners with D.C.-area law enforcement
| 01.30.2008 | 09:41:35 | Views: 1971 |
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Crime Data at the Click of a Mouse
Web Site to Offer Daily Updates on Local Incidents
By Ernesto LondoÃħo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; B05
Curious to know whether a registered sex offender lives on your block? Thinking all the talk of car break-ins near your house might be nothing but neighborhood hysteria?
Montgomery County residents will soon be able to find answers to these and other crime-related questions with a few clicks of the mouse, thanks to a new partnership between the county police and an online crime-mapping company that will upload crime data daily.
Montgomery is following in the footsteps of the D.C. police department, which last year became the first law enforcement agency in the area to join forces with crimereports.com.
"This is stuff that people are really interested in knowing about," Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said. "And it's convenient for folks."
Manger said community activists and other residents frequently call the department seeking detailed crime information about their areas. The site will allow them to get current, customized information about the geographic area of interest, he said.
Starting Friday, county residents will be able to track crime trends by typing an address or city into a search query on the Web site. Small icons representing types of crime will appear on a Google map. Users can zoom in and out or re-center the map. They can set the parameters for a search, including a specific time period.
Clicking on each icon prompts a small box with the date and location. Clicking on icons of registered sex offenders brings up a photo and a link to the person's profile on the state's sex offender registry.
Unlike the D.C. police, the Montgomery County police will not provide brief narratives of each crime. Montgomery Capt. Mitch Cunningham, who oversees the records division, said the department might add narrative information to the site later on.
Users can also register to receive free e-mail notifications when certain offenses occur in an area they choose.
Crime reports will be automatically uploaded to the site daily. Each incident identified on the site will have a report number that residents can use to obtain the actual police report at a station. The site does not include information on victims and identifies areas by block address. Data on the site are preliminary and may be revised as investigations progress, Manger said.
The Web site, which currently has no advertising, is controlled by Salt Lake City-based Public Engines Inc., a small company that opened in 2006. The county will pay the company $200 each month for its service.
Scott Newsome, vice president for marketing and product management at the company, said the site hopes to team up with other police departments in the Washington area soon.
"Right now we're taking small steps," he said.
Eventually, company officials hope to provide crime information for larger portions of the country and offer more comprehensive and sophisticated data, Newsome said.
A similar mapping feature, Local Explorer, is available on Washingtonpost.com. Local Explorer includes information on home sales and schools and covers more of the Washington region. But it updates crime data periodically, not daily, and includes information on fewer types of offenses.
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