New Web site maps crimes in Baltimore

February 06, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Noting a promise to make the city Police Department "more transparent," Mayor Martin O'Malley and Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris are preparing to unveil a Web site providing recent crime statistics at the neighborhood level.

O'Malley and Norris said they hope the Web site - which will provide maps that show most serious crimes - will give residents more information about their neighborhoods. "It's about getting people to take ownership of their own part of Baltimore," O'Malley said.

The site, which cost about $70,000 to develop, will be launched at a news conference today. It was the idea of O'Malley, who was impressed by a Web site run by the Chicago Police Department.

Police officials in Baltimore said the site will allow users to search crimes by city neighborhood, school, police post, or within a half-mile or quarter-mile of a specified address.

The maps show crimes with colored dots. Click a button and the dots turn into a table listing the dates and times of the crimes. Click on a specific dot and learn when that crime took place.

Users will be able to obtain data for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, auto theft, burglary and theft from vehicles during two-week periods within the most recent 90-day period. The data will be at least 10 days old, police said, to protect investigations and prevent criminals from figuring out whether police are tracking their movements.

The site will have no descriptions of specific crimes and will provide only statistical data, though designers are contemplating adding more features, they said.

"It's a cool Web site," Norris said. "We promised to be more transparent. If [residents] want to see the crime picture in their neighborhood, they can."

The site was designed by Wesley R. Wise, a retired police lieutenant, with Lt. Craig Meyer, Lt. Paul Herman and city employees Bill Ballard and Frank Perelli.

It can be reached through a link on the department's Web page at www.baltimorepd.org.

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