Sheriff unveils crime mapping system
THE CRIME-MAPPING program gives residents a chance to see what’s going on in their neighborhood.
Do you want to know where all the sheriff’s squad-cars with lights and sirens were headed the other night? Do you want to find out what sort of crime is happening in your neighborhood?
Valley residents can now find some of those answers with a new tool from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
For the last four or more years, residents have been able to go online to look at incident and arrest logs from around the county, report crimes and even request records.
Now, just in the past week, the Sheriff’s Office has gone live with online crime mapping.
By inputting their address and then going through various parameters – such as crime types and dates – county residents now have access to a new view of their neighborhoods, replete with color-coded icons.
“We started looking at systems in 2009 and 2010,” said Matt Harris, a civilian crime analyst with the Sheriff’s Office. “But we didn’t find anything that met the standard we were looking for.”
This past August, Harris got back in touch with one of the companies producing crime data analysis, RAIDS Online, after hearing that it had a new method. RAIDS is an acronym for Regional Analysis and Information Sharing.
“We brought it back and the sheriff gave me the go ahead, saying, ‘This is what we want to do,’” Harris explained.
One of the program changes in the new mapping system locates crime incidents at the nearest intersection rather than spotlighting a specific address, in order to protect the identity of victims.
Not every call for service will be included on the map, only those for which an incident report was written. As an example, if there is a noisy party down the street and deputies show up to tell the partiers to tone it down, it won’t make the map unless something more serious happens – such as a fight breaks out – that necessitates a report.
But if a crime has been committed and it generates a report, it will make it to the map.
“It might not make it the next day,” Harris said. “There are a number of steps before it makes the map. The deputy has to write the report, the supervisor has to sign off on it, and then it goes to records before it goes online,” Harris said.
If it’s a minor incident, or if the deputy or officer is off duty, it might take a couple of days to hit the map.
“Most things would go up within a week,” Harris said.
When the Sheriff’s Office rolled out the map during a GIS Day in Santa Rosa last week, the mapping system got kudos.
“People were impressed with the amount of data and the functionality of the system,” Harris said.
The information will stay in the system indefinitely, and right now there is data as far back as 2008.
“The people in records are happy because they get a lot of data requests,” Harris said. “Now they can direct them to the site and they can do their own research.”
Sonoma County is one of more than 200 police agencies nationwide using the RAIDS system. The Santa Rosa Police also use the system and there’s a pull-down menu for the other cities and agencies that are also online.
The best part of the RAIDS system is that it doesn’t cost the county anything.
“We wanted to find the best system we could provide,” Harris said. “We hope it adds to a complete, full-service site.”
To view the mapping system, see sonomasheriff.org/pr_raidsonline.php.