Gila River Police rolls out online Community Crime Map
January 20, 2017
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian News
In this modern age of technology where everyone seems to be connected through social media and can tell you what the latest hip celebrity had for breakfast this morning, the average person still might not know who their neighbors are or what types of criminal activity are occurring within their own community.
To strengthen communication between the Gila River Police Department and the people it is sworn to protect, the GRPD in partnership with LexisNexis Risk Solutions has rolled out a six-month pilot program for Community members to stay informed about local crime through an online map called Community Crime Map.
The map, which can be visited at http://communitycrimemap.com, shows all reported crimes that have occurred within GRIC since January 2016 and automatically updates itself with new data three times a day. Information on the website details the type of crime, date, time, and general location of where criminal activity occurred.
Community members will not only be able to see and learn about crimes that occur in their own neighborhoods, they will also be able to directly send anonymous tips to GRPD.
GRPD is also working with LexisNexis on a neighborhood crime alert system that Community members can signup for that will alert them to any criminal incidents that occurs in their designated area. This alert system is currently offline but will soon be a feature in the Community Crime Map.
In addition to local crimes, the GRIC Community Crime Map lists known sex offenders, providing a photograph, street address, age, and type of crime committed.
Once the offender box is selected, the map is populated with local sex offenders, represented by a person’s purple silhouette, which can be clicked on for more detailed information.
Teresa Villescaz, GRPD Communications Administrator, said that the project was a long work in progress, built from address and street data collected by GRIC’s Geographic Information Systems section (GIS) over the past 10 years. “Every residence, road, and trail has been mapped and addressed”, she said.
“The [GRPD] Rangers and GIS, [they] went out and [they] GPS’d every single trail,” said Villescaz. “Every single trail in the community now lies within our database. It has been a huge undertaking.”
While this system is useful to Community members who want to see what criminal activity is going on in their neighborhoods, it is also a useful tool for the GRPD.
Villescaz said that there are two parts to the new system, one is the Community Crime Map that Community members can view to see criminal activity within GRIC, the second is a more robust tool offering GRPD officers quicker and more detailed access to information about possible suspects and local neighborhoods.
GRPD Public Information Officer Caroline Brown explained how the system works using a hypothetical criminal incident of an individual vandalizing property.
“If I were to go to that call for [vandalism], I would respond and have to take that person to jail. I would request a case number from dispatch, they would assign me that case number and I would take the [individual] to jail [and] book [them] in,” she said.
All information about the vandalism from the suspect’s name, location, date, time, case number, and more is entered into the GRPD’s electronic record management system.
“LexisNexis would pull that information from that case number; they only pull certain information like the time, the date, and populate that onto the map.”
Villescaz noted that the map is a huge benefit to GRIC because Community members can actively know what is going on around them and better protect themselves.
“Unfortunately crime is there, so how can you as a citizen do more? For example, if I log in [to Community Crime Maps] and see quite a lot of burglaries around my area, now I can take those proactive measures. Let’s make sure doors are locked, taking that extra step to protect myself,” she said.
“It also allows us to build a transparency with the Community without affecting ongoing investigations or our victims. This allows them to see what’s been going on.
This is as real time as we can get. It pulls from our database three times a day so they are seeing really live information,” said Villescaz.