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Display of Crimes Not a Hit at Council Meeting

The police department wants to have a crime-mapping data available on the city Web site.

A proposal to add crime-mapping to the New Rochelle city Web site was not greeted with unanimous enthusiasm at a recent City Council meeting.

New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll demonstrated for council members a Web site that would integrate and make available crime data on the city Web site.

"Hopefully the community can make great use of this, as well as the police department," Carroll said.

He said the company—www.crimemapping.com—presents data supplied by police departments superimposed on a map. The data can be sorted by type of crime, and anyone viewing the site can elect to receive alerts via email.

Using the service would be paid for by a grant.

The data runs about a day behind and, once published, is kept on line for 90 days. He said that should change in the future to six months.

When New Rochelle was displayed, 33 crimes were shown for the period March 2-8 in an area around the police department.

"As we show this number of crimes," Carroll said, "(the public would) have to remember that New Rochelle is the fourth safest city in the U.S." for its size.

When one clicks on a particular icon, the generic name of the crime is displayed along with the case number, date and time of the incident, the location by block (not the specific address), a brief description (usually a repeat of the name of the crime) and the ability to find out how close the viewer is to the crime.

Carroll said he hoped residents would use this tool to interact with the police and possibly help solve some crimes and prevent others.

"Having access to this they would see where the burglaries occurred," he said, instead of responding to rumors.

Mayor Noam Bramson said that, while he understood the value of this kind of information, he was not sure how New Rochelle residents would use it.

"We all understand this is by any objective metric a very safe neighborhood," he said. Yet when he saw the graphic representation of the week's incidents, he was taken aback.

"It's almost like an anti-marketing campaign," Bramson said.

Carroll said he had a plan to do outreach with community and business organizations to educate them and the public on the value and usage of the Web site.

Councilman Barry Fertel, D-District 5, said he thought the CrimeMapping.com would be more useful to the city officials and the police.

"I don't think it informs as much as you think it does," he said. "It gives information that causes more concern and alarm."

Access to the data was briefly available to the public, but it has since been taken off the New Rochelle city Web site, said City Manager Charles Strome. He said it was necessary to go live in order to do the presentation, but will not be reactivated until the council OKs it.

"We want to refine the information" the public will see, he said.

New Rochelle would be the first community in New York to have its crime data presented on CrimeMapping.com, if the council allows the police department to proceed.

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Aunt Sandy March 11, 2011 at 03:55 PM
I think the crime mapping would be useful for residents. A family member and his family living in Elmsford recently had a break in at their home. The mom, arrived home midday after her part-time job and while trying to comprehend opened doors and disorder, heard someone else's cell phone ring, possibly the perpetrator. She quickly left and called the police. The criminal was not caught. At the days and weeks passed, she found out that other neighbors had recently had break ins -- across the street, up the road, down the street, etc. This was not communicated to the neighborhood at all. Had they known that someone was breaking into homes in their neighborhood, all could have kept their eyes open more. Information is power, no need to hide from it when it comes to public safety. Let us see what we need to know. We are not Polly Annas.
Nummy April 23, 2011 at 05:38 PM
"It gives information that causes more concern and alarm." Duh! As it should! Cant believe Councilman Barry Ferte said this, and like Aunt Sandy said "no need to hide from it when it comes to public safety. Let us see what we need to know. We are not Polly Annas."
Karen Hessel May 22, 2011 at 05:10 PM
Does this crime mapping program include traffic accidents? I think could be useful in improving traffic safety and reducing traffic accidents. Say there is an accident cluster at a particular intersection, the city could work on that intersection. Right now, I think it is difficult to compile this info manually. Also, finding where bicycles are hit or pedestrians are frequently hit would be very useful in timing lights and installing stop signs.

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