GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A new online feature allows Greensboro residents to search and view crime near their homes.
Greensboro Police launched CrimeMapping.com on Monday. The site is electronically connected to police incident reports and allows users to enter an address to view different types of crimes reported around a home or business.
The website is free and does not require the user to sign up or log on. Greensboro Police Department is the sixth law enforcement agency in North Carolina to use the system. 352 other agencies in the U.S. and Canada are already on board.
Greensboro Police Officer Douglas Campbell says he spends a lot of time answering requests from people who want to know what crime is happening in their neighborhood. Now, he hopes citizens can see it for themselves.
"They can print out that map or email it around and say, 'Hey I think we really ought to get a Neighborhood Watch started,'" he explained. "They can also use it to see what is trending in their neighborhood and request seminars or advice for how to thwart that kind of crime."
High Point's Police Department has been using the CrimeMapping system for several years.
"We've had a number of moped thefts recently," High Point Police. Lt. Tracy Perry said. She used the system Monday by printing out large colored maps as she pinpointed a string of moped thefts in the city.
"There's somewhat of a pattern we're seeing develop over in Beat 1," she explained, showing the maps.
Lt. Perry said the system helps generate tips from citizens, too. "They start seeing things in their neighborhood. If they saw someone riding a moped down the street, they might call if they think that's suspicious."
President of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association Nancy Radtke said it's sometimes natural for people to ask about crime in an area before deciding to move there.
"I think it's a great idea," she said of CrimeMapping in Greensboro. "It sounds like a nice tool. I think it will be a great thing for people coming into the area to take a look at or anybody trying to decide whether to relocate."
The maps show 15 types of crime: arsons, assaults, burglary, disturbing the peace, alcohol or drug violations, DUI, fraud, homicide, motor vehicle theft, robbery, sex crimes (indecent exposure or peeping toms), theft or larceny, vandalism, vehicle break-in or theft and weapons violations.
"We spent a lot of time double checking and triple checking so that every crime reported can get on a map and located accurately," added Dr. Eleazer Hunt, Manager of Greensboro Police Department's Information Services. Dr. Hunt has worked with crime analysis and reports for more than twenty years. He helped develop the software for High Point and Greensboro data to be compatible with CrimeMapping.
"This is a good deal," Dr. Hunt explained. "This is one of four components we are implementing this year involving new technology. The whole system was about $88,000. Forfeiture funds covered $48,445 and a Justice Assistance grant paid $23,000."
The website shows up to six months of criminal reports and can be adjusted down to one day; the radius of the area reported can be widened up to two miles. It can also generate charts, share maps, and email reports. There is an iPhone app available as well.
"Providing this program gives our residents, business owners and visitors great visibility over violent crimes, property crimes and quality of life crimes in every block of our city," wrote Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller in a letter to Guilford County Commissioners. "It is our hope that community members who are better-informed will be more engaged in partnering with us to fight crime."
You can visit crimemapping.com for more information