The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Madison is participating in a new online service that allows members of the public to monitor crime in their neighborhoods. CrimeReports.com allows users to zero in on a map of the city and view recent crimes within the vicinity (excluding traffic citations and crashes).. They can also sign up to receive free e-mail alerts when any new crimes are reported.
Here’s a sample of the neighborhood surrounding the law school:
Madison is only the second city in the state to use the system – New Berlin was the first. About 400 other cities nationwide use the system also.
From the article:
Users can select which types of crimes to track — from homicides to noise complaints. They also can adjust the reporting distance from a specific address, search by police sector or aldermanic ward, or search within a range of dates going back six months. The site also tracks the location of registered sex offenders.
The Web site combines Google’s online mapping program with information automatically provided daily by the Madison Police Department. The city pays $130 a month to feed information from its police records management system to a Utah-based Internet company, Public Engines….
Michael Scott, a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor who specializes in law enforcement, said he has encouraged Madison police for years to follow the lead of other police agencies around the country and post their crime data online.
“The data can have a reassuring effect by showing citizens that their neighborhoods are not necessarily as crime-ridden as they might otherwise believe,” Scott said. “Other times, the data are helpful in informing citizens that there is a crime problem in their neighborhood which might motivate them and police to take steps to address.”
See also Criminal Searches, a site that allows you to do just what its name implies – run a criminal history check on specific people or generally for a geographic area. See my earlier WisBlawg post on this service.