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Chief: York City's interactive crime map will increase transparency
York City residents can now monitor crime in their neighborhoods — and throughout the entire city — with an interactive crime map unveiled Wednesday by city police.
"We want to be more transparent about what's going on," York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said. "We wanted to put a map out to the public for a very long time, but it was always cost-prohibitive,"
But police officials recently learned the mapping tool was free to the department through Citizen Observer/Tip411, the company that provides the department's tip-texting and public-alert service, he said.
"Every time a report is generated by one of our officers, it will be put on the map," Kahley said. "There's no work we have to do on our end. ... It's free and it's exactly what we wanted. It's a great tool."
The online map, which can be found at raidsonline.com, allows people to search for all crimes or specific crimes, in specific areas of the city or in the entire city. The site also allows them to leave anonymous tips about crime in York City. At the website, click on the outline of Pennsylvania and select "York City."
York City's map lists crimes going back to March 21.
An app for that: People with Apple devices will be able to access the map using an app found in the App Store, according to the department, and more links to the service will be added to the department's website. The app will allow people to send tips and receive crime alerts on their cellphones, the chief said.
Kahley likened the interactive mapping tool to the department's daily police log, "but in a more visual format."
It's the first of a number of improvements the York City Police Department is making to foster better communication and partnerships with city residents, he said.
"In a perfect world, I'd be able to hire someone who's savvy with (social media)," Kahley said. And while the department does have its own Facebook page and Twitter handle, @ycpda1, the new map can provide far more information to citizens, and more quickly, he said.
The chief said when he was growing up, "something couldn't happen without people knowing about it and talking about it. That doesn't seem to happen as much anymore."
He said he hopes the interactive map will fill in for the old neighborhood grapevine.
"Now you'll know what happened in the alley behind your home and maybe you'll get more involved," he said.
'Call in': Kahley said while the mapping program is a great tool, it doesn't offer the entire picture.
"I want to caution the public that they shouldn't draw assumptions based on a little bit of information," he said. "They can call in and talk to us, and we'll be happy to answer their questions."
People can call the department's main number, (717) 846-1234, and ask for Kahley's administrative assistant, or call the department's community services division at (717) 849-2216.
York City's map includes all crimes listed on the mapping site except sexual assault and the vague "all other" crime, according to the chief. He said sexual assaults won't be shown on the map to protect the privacy of victims.
Officers will also be using the map in-house for their own purposes, the chief said, because the program has law-enforcement facets the public can't access.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.