August 03, 2009
Case Study: Small Agency Benefits from CrimeReports.com
“We were hopeful that the community would become excited about it; but, even if they didn’t, I wanted it for selfish reasons. This is an effective tool for me and my team; we’re end-users."
–Chief Teresa Chambers
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Chief Teresa Chambers of Riverdale Park, Maryland, doesn’t like surprises. As a young lieutenant she remembers getting crime statistics at the end of each calendar year. “We were always crossing our fingers,” she says, hoping that the numbers would be good. Later, as the police chief over a two-and-half square-mile town, she didn’t have the funding for a crime analyst but she wanted a way to easily and cheaply map crime so she could allocate resources and track problem areas and patterns across jurisdictional boundaries.
“When you don’t have technology, a pin-map isn’t half bad,” says Chambers, but with the wealth of technology now available, she started looking for a more interactive solution that would allow her to track crime data in near-real time. She tried plotting her own crimes on a self-made Google Map, but that solution was too cumbersome to be of any use. In addition, without getting and plotting data from neighboring jurisdictions, she would be unable to track patterns that crossed boundaries and wouldn’t be able to get an accurate picture of what was going on in the whole region.
When she first contacted CrimeReports.com for a solution, she had concerns that her “pen and paper” department would not be able to integrate into the CrimeReports system. However, the dispatcher recorded calls for service on an Excel spreadsheet, so Chambers sent the spreadsheet to CrimeReports to see what they could do with it. Within an hour, she could see all the Riverdale Park crime data plotted on an interactive map, and she was thrilled. “We don’t have to wait for days or weeks or months; it’s almost instantaneous,” she says.
Even though she has received very positive feedback from the community since implementing CrimeReports, she says that, prior to that time, “Nobody was beating down my
door, looking for crime data.” But in a department with only twenty-nine employees and no money for a crime analyst, she says, “We were hopeful that the community would become excited about it; but, even if they didn’t, I wanted it for selfish reasons. This is an effective tool for me and my team; we’re end-users.” And now CrimeReports has afforded her a new, low-cost tool in her crime-fighting arsenal and a welcome and powerful interactive tool for the community she serves.
Once Riverdale Park joined CrimeReports, Chambers began to see surrounding agencies join as well. Where once she could only see her own crime data on the map, now the entire county is online. She can see crime plotted for neighboring jurisdictions and is able to see crime patterns that she didn’t see before. For example, in the Riverdale Park area, there was a burglary involving a man using a sledgehammer to break through a cinderblock wall. Chambers was able to see that similar burglaries had occurred in neighboring jurisdictions, information she wouldn’t have had previous to joining CrimeReports. As a result, she was able to share her information with other agencies and work together with them toward apprehending the thief.
As a side benefit, her department has received recognition from the governor for being a leader in implementing crime mapping across the state of Maryland, and it has put her in good favor when applying for state law enforcement grants. As well, because CrimeReports is web-based, rather than server based, she is able to stay up to date on the activity in her jurisdiction while she travels. All she needs is a laptop and a wireless connection. And the best part, she says, “there are no more surprises.” She doesn’t have to wait for yearly or quarterly reports to find out how her department is doing. She comes in every morning, pours a cup of coffee, pulls up CrimeReports, and can see crime data with the click of a mouse.
Serving more than 500 law enforcement agencies across North America, CrimeReports.com is the largest online resource for accurate, up-to-date crime information. CrimeReports offers a family of affordable, easy-to-use software tools for law enforcement agencies to understand crime trends and share up-to-date neighborhood crime data with the public. Community members can access the information for free at www.CrimeReports.com, empowering them to make informed decisions to help improve the safety of their neighborhood and community.
CrimeReports services are offered by Public Engines, Inc. For more information, visit www.CrimeReports.com.