New tool allows York City residents to track crime in their neighborhoods

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

The York City Police Department is giving residents an interactive map so they can monitor criminal activity happening in their neighborhoods.

“This functions very similar to (the old blotter) in the sense that you can still get that," said York City Police Lt. Daniel Lentz. "You can put a date and time in, you can filter it down by incident type and then you can see a heat map."

In partnership with Crimewatch, the new crime mapping and analysis system brings near real-time transparency to police incident responses. All access is free and community members can sign up to receive notifications for activity from the police department.

York City Police in partnership with Crimewatch unveiled an interactive map that allows residents to monitor criminal activity in their community. (Crimewatch)

Lentz said the map allows residents to see when an incident occurred and who may have been arrested in connection with that particular crime. It provides transparency for the community, he said.

"For example, if I wanted to see all the robbery reports that we took over the last six months," he said, "we can put in that information and then we can turn the heat map on to see where we are experiencing the most incidents of robbery.”

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When residents know what's happening in their community, they are better able to assist police and monitor crime in their neighborhood, he said.

“Another way that its beneficial is, let’s just say that I live in the 600 block of West Market Street and I look at this crime map every day and I see over the last week there’s been a lot of car break-ins in my neighborhood," Lentz said. "Well, I can be a little more vigilant and I can be on the lookout for anyone that looks suspicious. I can maybe review cameras that I had outside my house. I can help the police out with some of their crimes by providing them information.”

The data used on the interactive map is pulled directly from the department’s report management system, Lentz said. 

“So, whenever we field a 911 call and it warrants a report, they will come back to the station and enter it into the report management system, and that’s where that date is generated from and then it gets mapped in our partnership with Crimewatch," he said.

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With the new system, community members can look up crime data from as far back as 2009. Lentz said the department used paper reports before 2009, and those would not be available on the system.

While the intent is to provide information to the public, Lentz said, the map is also a useful tool for the department.

“It can certainly be used internally for our supervisors and command staff,” he said. “We can look at the last two weeks or whatever and we have a lot of robberies or assaults that are out on the east end, we might be able to move more resources out that way. It certainly gives us another tool in the toolbox.”

Residents can view the York City Police Department crime map by visiting the department’s Crimewatch web portal at www.yorkcitypolice.com and then clicking the “CRIME MAP” button (top right) in the main menu. Or by using this link: https://labs.crimewatch.net/#lat=39.9603&lon=-76.7285&zoom=13&layers=0 .

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter. 

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