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New sheriff’s crime-tracking app: how you can put it to use

Tribune

There’s a new sheriff app in town.

On Tuesday, Sedgwick County rolled out “What’s Going On,” a computer and phone application that maps crimes around the county.

The app was developed by the Sheriff’s Office, which provides the crime data, and the county Geographic Information Services Department, which sticks it to the map.

Here’s what you need to know to use it:

1) How do I get there?

On desktop, the app is available through the county’s home page at www.sedgwickcounty.org. It’s also available on the county mobile app under the icon labeled “crime.”

2) What information is available?

The app shows most of the crime and traffic incidents handled by the Sheriff’s Office. Users can select the time period they want to search from the past day to the past 365 days. You can also select to have data displayed as individual crimes or a “heat map” showing areas where crimes are clustered.

By clicking on the map icons, users can get basic information about the dates and types of crimes, along with a rough location to the nearest block. All information is updated at 7 a.m. each day.

3) So what can I do with this information?

According to Sheriff’s Lt. Lin Dehning, the main idea is to let residents know when and where crime is occurring in their neighborhoods so they be more vigilant about watching out for themselves and their neighbors. Deputy County Manager Tom Stolz said the app will also be useful for developers and real-estate agents who want crime information to share with their customers.

4) What’s not in the app?

No sex crimes, rape, molestation etc. will show up on the map due to restrictions in state law, Sheriff Jeff Easter said.

At present, the app also doesn’t show crimes committed by juveniles. County Commissioners asked for that information to be added to the app and Easter said that shouldn’t be a problem because the average citizen wouldn’t be able to tell if juveniles were involved from the basic information provided by the app.

5) Any other drawbacks?

Probably the biggest issue right now is that the app can only show crimes that the Sheriff’s Office responds to. The Wichita Police Department uses different data software that isn’t compatible with the mapping program used in the app. However, Easter said the two law-enforcement departments are working toward the goal of showing all crime on a common map. Smaller cities that have their own police forces also aren’t shown on the map at present.

6) Does that give a distorted picture of crime in the county?

The short answer is “yes,” because sheriff’s deputies do respond to relatively few calls in the city limits.

County Commissioner Jim Howell said that’s particularly a concern in Oaklawn, a heavily populated but unincorporated area between south Wichita and Derby. Howell is concerned that the app will make Oaklawn look like the most crime-ridden part of the Wichita area, even though it isn’t, because it gets the most attention from the sheriff’s office.

Easter said there is a crime problem in Oaklawn and he hopes the app will help deputies and the community work together to solve it. “It’s not labeling, these are facts,” he said.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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