Amherstburg police launches new crime mapping tool

 

Pictured is a screen shot of the new crime mapping tool launched by the Amherstburg Police Service.

Pictured is a screen shot of the new crime mapping tool launched by the Amherstburg Police Service.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Police Service has launched a new crime mapping tool which is aimed at helping the service and the public on where incident trends are.

The crime plotting tool was launched last week. Sr. Const. Shawn McCurdy said the tool extracts live data and places it on a map and allows people to see where incidents occur.

McCurdy said certain calls will not be placed on the crime plot map, with those being incidents where victims could be identified and matters that are sensitive in nature. Those include sudden deaths from natural causes, suicides and suicide attempts, mental health issues, domestic violence, sexual assaults, child abuse and similar matters.

“We don’t want to identify any victims,” said McCurdy.

Incidents such as assaults, traffic complaints, drug offenses, suspicious persons or vehicles,  dangerous conditions, thefts and mischiefs are among the non-sensitive items included as part of the site.

McCurdy said it is a tool the police can use to better direct patrols and get a better picture of where things occur and how the police service can direct its resources better. Amherstburg police use a more detailed version of the tool in-house, he noted, as a way to plan the service’s crime prevention initiatives.

“We won’t provide detailed locations for any specific incident and the co-ordinates have a margin of error induced to help keep the incidents anonymous,” he said.

The website the crime mapping tool can be accessed at is www.crimeplot.com with Amherstburg police being one of 13 services currently using the site. McCurdy said Amherstburg police were looking for software to perform such a mapping service and discovered the Midland Police Service had the software that utilizes the same records management system as Amherstburg police.

The website comes with some bugs, McCurdy acknowledged, but “is ready for public trials.” He said the data will be updated regularly and that people are invited to check back regularly. Thus far, data stretches back 90 days.

“We always try to be transparent and share everything we can legally with the public,” said McCurdy.

The website also allows people to have a better idea of what is happening in their neighbourhoods. There is no cost for the new tool, he added.

McCurdy added that the police hopes the public finds the new tool both useful and insightful. He believes people may be surprised at what is happening in the community and where it is occurring.

“Sharing this with our community just makes sense,” he said.

The site is built to be mobile-device friendly. When accessing it at www.crimeplot.com, users have to accept the user agreement and click on Amherstburg Police Service in the menu at the left of the screen. The link to the website is also available through www.amherstburg.ca/police.

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