Mapping Database Tracks Crimes
New York’s state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJC) has created a crime-mapping tool intended to link 500 police departments across the state, allowing agencies to share data in a variety of ways.
For example, agencies could search for crimes that occur at a specific time, are of a particular nature, and take place near specific areas such as schools across different precincts.
Yet only about 110 law enforcement agencies are currently supplying data to the system’s database, and an even smaller number use it to work on criminal cases.
The system was intended to help agencies statewide identify patterns or correlate seemingly independent crimes, as well link crimes to known offenders. In Chicago, the police department’s crime-mapping system also lets citizens obtain information about crimes committed in their communities.
Other crime-mapping tools have been launched in New York City, Charlotte, N.C., Phoenix, Ariz., and a number of California cities.
Policing experts forecast that such systems will become commonplace in the future for such purposes as finding serial murderers, alerting agencies to crime hotspots that need additional resources, halting car theft schemes, and helping agencies identify resurfacing trends.
But John Markovic at the Vera Institute of Justice in Manhattan, which helped develop DCJC’s system, says data must be entered into the system “cleanly” for it to be optimally used to make maps.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Albany Times Union (09/02/03) P. A1; Lyons, Brendan.