Track city crime stats online

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A new wave of crime fighting has made its way to Andalusia.

Called crime mapping, the process allows the Andalusia Police Department – and other law enforcement agencies around the nation – to monitor, track, and at times, predict, crime activity in the community.

Now, the general public can access that information with a few clicks of a computer mouse just by visiting, said APD Sgt. Mike Hayden.

“We’re required to submit reports daily to the state (of the department’s activity),” Hayden said. “Through a partnership, this company takes that information and runs it through a statistical mapping program. The result is a visual product that helps us see the picture as a whole.

“It allows us to look at area and see what’s happening there,” he said. “It also helps us when those things happen to pinpoint trends early on.

“For instance, say we’re seeing home burglaries in an area,” he said. “Historically, we know that those instances happen in a specific geographical area. We know to increase patrols and do what we can to increase public safety.”

Information is updated to the site every 24 hours; however, there is some delay for weekend information and office closings due to holidays, he said.

“It’s as close to virtual real time as we can get,” Hayden said.

The APD is the only local law enforcement agency currently utilizing the program, he said.

The program allows users to search by specific crimes and specific areas within the city from 2007 to the present, he said. It does not release any personal information such as homeowner or the address of the crime.

“By default, it shows the felony crimes, but you can search for any crime,” he said. “It doesn’t show traffic stops, though.”

One can also view registered sex offenders in specific areas.

The city pays less than $50 a month for the service, Hayden said.

“It’s a good tool that gives live, real time view of what’s happening and where it’s happening in our community,” he said. “The same benefit can be said for local residents.”

Future advancements of the program include submitting a crime tip.

“That’s an added feature that we hope to include in the future,” he said. “It’s totally anonymous.”

Hayden said residents will be able to click on a link that will send their anonymous tip to the Web site company, who will in turn, forward the information to the local department.

“Then via e-mail or text, we get the information and can act on it,” he said.

More than 700 law enforcement agencies nationwide currently utilize CrimeReports.