Alberta RCMP have been testing out a new map that points out where certain crimes are occurring and now it’s expanding across the province.
In February, St. Albert became one of the first municipalities to try out the crime map as part of the pilot project.
“We populate the data into it behind the scenes,” Cpl. Laurel Kading explained.
“It tracks property crimes — specifically break and enters, theft of vehicles, theft from vehicles, mischief — missing persons are on there.”
People can access the map through their city’s website. Kading said the St. Albert map has already been viewed over 5,000 times.
So far, RCMP have approached about 80 municipalities about joining up. So far, about 40 cities have signed on or are in the process of doing so.
“Even if you go on the St. Albert map, you’ll notice you’ll be able to back out, minimize your view and pull out into the province,” Kading said. “You’ll start seeing other places having icons, populating, showing that they’re feeding their crime maps. You can pull out and look at Spruce Grove or you could look at Leduc, you could go down look at Banff… go up to Wood Buffalo, into Fort McMurray and look to see what their’s looks like.
“We’re hoping that as more and more municipalities come on, eventually, you’ll be able to take a look at any part of the map that you want for the province.”
Kading said an officer spends about 15 minutes every morning (Monday to Friday) updating the local crime map with the latest information.
“We pull from our police reporting system so these are the stats that are reported to us as a detachment. We pull those stats in those crime types then we have to go through and look at them individually to make sure that if we had a situation where three people called in the same crime, we’re not putting three icons on the map. We will consolidate that into one icon.”
Watch below: During October and November, RCMP detachments across the province will be working with peace officers and local volunteer community groups to help raise awareness on auto theft prevention. They will remind citizens to secure their vehicles, and to move valuables and registration out of sight.
Since privacy is also important, RCMP do not pinpoint exactly where the crimes took place; instead, the icon is placed in the general area.
“We’re hoping the community people go, ‘Hey, that’s near me. I should make sure I’m locking my doors. I should make sure that I’m telling my neighbours who don’t look at the crime map that something happened near us.’
“We need to be aware so we can do the things that we’re able to do to make our neighbourhood safe.”
It’s also been a useful tool for police.
“It allows us as police, first of all, to be looking at trends. So we’re saying, ‘Gee, that particular crime seems to be happening right up the core of St Albert Trail along our business route. What can we do working with our business owners about that?’
“Or, if we see it in a particular neighbourhood, why is this neighbourhood suddenly seeing an increase in this particular crime? For us, we use it to then direct our officers.”
“We’re directing our patrols and looking at crime reduction strategies using the map as a tool,” Kading added.
The crimes recorded on the map expire after 14 days. Kading says it’s important to keep the stats current and fresh so people get a real feel for the situation in real-time.
There is information about how to report a crime on the same webpage as the crime map and Kading says St. Albert RCMP have seen an increase in property crimes being reported by citizens since the map launched.
“I would recommend everybody to get on board with it. We’ve found it is useful and… from the community side, we’re finding the community is engaging with it.”
Watch below: Edmonton police have made history by launching a website that makes detailed crime data public. Emily Mertz has the details.