The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By Os­car Gam­ble

The Nor­ris­town Po­lice Depart­ment re­cently in­tro­duced a new crime fight­ing tool that al­lows the public to track crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity neigh­bor­hood by neigh­bor­hood. CrimeMap­ went live in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity Aug. 5. CrimeMap­ is an in­ter­ac­tive web­site al­low­ing users to see where and what type of crimes have been com­mit­ted in a par­tic­u­lar area within a des­ig­nated time frame and up­dates users via email when crimes are per­pe­trated close to a given ad­dress.

Po­lice will uti­lize the crime map­ping data to as­sess crim­i­nal trends in real time, thus en­hanc­ing pre­pared­ness and re­sponse.

Nor­ris­town po­lice Chief Mark Tal­bot de­scribed crime map­ping as a vis­ual method of de­pict­ing crimes that al­lows the depart­ment to make cor­re­la­tions and re­la­tion­ships between events that will make for more effective polic­ing.

“So if you’re look­ing at a sus­pected drug house and you start to see theft from auto and you start to see bur­glary and you start to see some other types of crime that typ­i­cally re­volve around drug deal­ing, you know how to at­tack those prob­lems,” Tal­bot ex­plained.

“It al­lows us to dig a lit­tle bit deeper into what’s go­ing on and re­spond in a more effective way.”

Tal­bot her­alded the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances that made crime map­ping pos­si­ble but cau­tioned that the tech­nol­ogy is only ben­e­fi­cial if the po­lice and the public uti­lize it ef­fec­tively.

“I’m a big be­liever in tech­nol­ogy-driven strate­gies. Tech­nol­ogy is never go­ing to make or break a po­lice depart­ment. But tech­nol­ogy can ac­cel­er­ate the gains we’re al­ready mak­ing. So the in­no­va­tion is not nec­es­sar­ily the crime map­ping, but how the crime map­ping sup­ports our op­er­a­tion,” Tal­bot said.

“I’m con­fi­dent enough to say we’re go­ing to be re­spond­ing ef­fec­tively to any pat­terns or con­cen­tra­tions that the com­mu­ni­ties are go­ing to come across. So it al­lows us to fo­cus our re­sources where they need to be and to re­duce crime in the way that makes the most sense,” said Tal­bot.

Af­ter be­ing briefed on the project by Tal­bot, Mu­nic­i­pal Ad­min­is­tra­tor Cran­dall Jones ex­pressed his ap­proval and echoed the chiefs be­lief in the po­ten­tial ef­fi­cacy of the pro­gram.

“I think it’s a good thing from a trans­parency stand­point. I sup­port it,” said Jones, who stressed the im­por­tance of trans­parency in all as­pects of gover­nance.

“The chief thought it was im­por­tant for folks to be able to tap in and then see ex­actly what’s go­ing on in the neigh­bor­hoods from the per­spec­tive that if you’re more in­formed, you’re bet­ter pre­pared to deal with any sit­u­a­tions that are go­ing on and bet­ter pre­pared to as­sist the po­lice.”

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by Nor­ris­town po­lice and CrimeMap­ping. com, “The process is also in­tended to in­crease the public’s trust in co­op­er­a­tion with the po­lice, as well as the ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of po­lice op­er­a­tions by putting of­fi­cers and re­sources where crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity is oc­cur­ring.”

“Crime tends to con­cen­trate in cer­tain parts of the com­mu­nity,” said Tal­bot. “And this gives the peo­ple a chance to look and see what’s ac­tu­ally oc­cur­ring out there and gives them the op­por­tu­nity to help us out.

“Maybe they see some­thing that’s a lit­tle bit out of the or­di­nary and wouldn’t think much of it, but when they’re tak­ing a look on crime map­ping they see there’s some sort of crime that puts the in­for­ma­tion that they have in some con­text that’s use­ful for us. They can pick up the phone and let us know what’s hap­pen­ing.

The po­lice depart­ment en- courages res­i­dents to sign up for crime map­ping for free at www.crimemap­ map//pa/nor­ris­town and to re­port tips anony­mously by email­ing NPDTips@nor­ris­ or call­ing 610-278TIPS.

This screen­shot shows Nor­ris­town Po­lice Depart­ment’s crime map on CrimeMap­

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