Curious about crime in your neighborhood? A new crime-mapping service from the Wichita Police Department will help citizens stay alert to crime hot spots and trends.
With the searchable database, Wichitans can visualize crime in the city and filter by type, date, time of day, police beats and bureaus, schools and ZIP codes. The database also maps the addresses of the city's registered sex offenders.
"This is very useful, very intuitive," Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said. "We think that neighborhood organizations will be able to use this to be a force multiplier for police and help us combat crime."
By using the crime map, Livingston said, citizens would "likely be more aware and be better witnesses to crime" and work with officers to develop strategies to combat crime, in addition to being able to take steps to avoid being victims of crime if they notice a trend in their neighborhoods.
Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has previously said he wants the department to be more transparent, and Livingston said the crime-mapping service is a continuation of those efforts. Ramsay helped implement the program in Wichita after having used the same crime-analysis software at his previous job.
The website is updated once a day now, but police officials said the goal is to update it three or four times a day, providing almost real-time crime reports.
Mapping will be generalized, reporting the block where a crime happened, rather than the specific address.
Rapes and sexual assaults are not listed on the map, to protect victim privacy, police said.
Officer Charley Davidson said the majority of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim. In cases where the assault is committed by a stranger, the department notifies the public through the media and asks for help in investigating sexual assaults.
Other sexual offenses, such as indecent exposure, are listed on the map, although the locations of those offenses are offset to protect privacy.
In addition to the crime map, the service also offers tools for users to list crime reports and create charts and graphs of crime.
Users can sign up for email alerts on crime in their neighborhoods, with options for frequency of emails, distance from users' addresses and filters of crime types.
Livingston said the new service should not require any extra work on officers' parts.
The service comes through a partnership with LexisNexis, a database company that provides electronic access to legal documents and public records. By using the service, individuals also can search for crime records in participating cities across the nation.