CYBER SPACE — Residents and business owners can now use their computers to find out when and where crimes are occurring throughout Santa Monica.
The Santa Monica Police Department, in conjunction with the Information Systems Department, unveiled a new crime mapping system Monday that allows the public direct access to crime data, which is available for nearly all crimes that have been reported within the last 90 days. The system is updated daily, said Eric Uller, lead public safety systems analyst.
The system may be accessed via the Internet at www.santamonicapd.org/crimemapping. Users enter in an address and a specific length of time (from one day to 90 days) and the system creates a map of the neighborhood being searched, complete with symbols that represent a particular crime.
The data in the system may be searched by crime type within proximity to an address, intersection or landmark, as well as for the entire city or within the boundaries of police beats.
The maps and/or reports from the system may be printed or saved in PDF format.
Due to the unique and sensitive issues surrounding sex-related crimes, the SMPD does not include information about those crimes through the system. In order to obtain information about sex-related crimes, contact the Criminal Investigations Division at (310) 458-8451.
Uller said SMPD Chief Tim Jackman wanted to make the data available to the public to better assist them in neighborhood watch programs as well as help visitors be more aware.
“To ensure we are transparent, we are providing the public with data they can use to identify crime trends in their area … ,” Uller said.
Uller developed the system over the course of a year. The system is operated solely by the SMPD and all data is secured.
The SMPD routinely receives calls from people looking to move into Santa Monica or change neighborhoods who want to know what the crime rate is for the area where they want to relocate. Instead of having officers pull that data, the public can now access it online faster, Uller said.
That saves time for both parties.
“If a staff member has to take time to create a map, where now the public can do it themselves, that means more time is taken away from other analysis,” Uller said.
Some community members have for years been calling on the SMPD to release more crime data in a user-friendly format. Arrest reports are currently posted online, but this is the first time a mapping feature has been incorporated. All that was available before was the booking and case numbers, the suspect’s first and last name, the charge, their date of birth and the time the suspect was booked. No location of the arrest was given.
There is hope that the new mapping system will become another tool community groups can use to become more aware and potentially stop crimes before they occur.
Uller does want to remind users that while the system is updated daily, only those crimes that are reported and entered into the system are uploaded.
“It will not answer the public’s question of, ‘Six police cars just drove past, what’s going on?’” Uller said.
The benefit for the police department is that the system builds a stronger relationship between the community and law enforcement, while also putting more eyes and ears on the street in the form of informed residents and visitors, said SMPD Sgt. Jay Trisler.
“It’s a tool to make everyone more aware,” Trisler said.
The SMPD will continue to post daily reports of calls for service logs and arrest logs on its Web site.
In the next year, Uller said the Web site will include a feature that will allow victims of a crime to file certain police reports online, saving a trip to the Public Safety Facility.