With the use of a personal computer or mobile device, local individuals and businesses can now retrieve crime information from the Oakdale Police Department and will be able to make police reports.
The Oakdale Police Department has contracted with CrimeReports.com in order to provide a tool for crime prevention, community awareness, and data transparency. Citizens can view most crimes reported to the police department and sign up for crime notifications based on user-defined parameters such as geography, crime types, and frequency.
CrimeReports.com also has a free mobile phone app available so that citizens can view crime information on the go.
To use CrimeReports.com, a user enters an address of interest (home, office, school, etc.) and clicks on the “Search” button to view a map with the reported criminal activity in a given area. CrimeReports.com integrates data from other participating agencies into a single interface and offers automated, location-based notification services.
According to Oakdale Police Records Clerk Heather Tamburrino, the organization is able to compile the crime information from the department’s records division.
“There’s an interface between our records management system and their product so it’s done automatically,” said Tamburrino. “We want to encourage people to log on and review the incidents for their neighborhoods to be informed about what’s going on.”
The department removes victim identification as part of the data publishing process. In addition, they protect victim identities by converting the exact street addresses to the block of the street the incident occurred. For example, the address 123 Main St. would be mapped and displayed as “100 block Main Street.”
Markers are placed on the map in a random location and do not specifically identify the crime location.
Tamburrino said that with the information made available to the public, individuals can check for themselves and determine the level of crime for a certain area.
“If someone calls and asks what’s safe and not safe, I don’t want to be the one to determine,” said Tamburrino. “This way they can judge for themselves.”
Police Chief Lester Jenkins said the department is finalizing steps to have CopLogic, the system that will allow people to file some police reports online, on board as part of the department’s website by January.
“The reason we’re doing this is for efficiency,” said Jenkins. “We want people who are comfortable to be able to jump online and be able to report things themselves.”
Residents will be able to go to the department’s website for a link to file reports for minor incidents not requiring immediate attention, such as thefts under $950, vehicle burglaries, lost property, harassing telephone calls and other lesser crimes. With people no longer needing to have an officer to file a report, officers will be more available to handle pressing matters.
Jenkins said the program will also allow citizens to report suspicious actions such as drug activity and persons who are wanted.
Some police personnel have gone through training on the new system and the department is the process of drafting a policy regarding online reporting.
Reports can be filed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the victim’s convenience instead of having to wait for an officer to respond, Jenkins said.
The system will also allow citizens to put incidents into their own words, clearing up confusion when an officer writes a report on what the citizen told them. He hopes that the ease of being able to file reports online will also encourage citizens to report crimes they would have otherwise simply left to insurance companies.
Jenkins said the reports will be reviewed daily by a watch commander which will in turn help police identify any possible crime patterns.
Those without computers or who would rather speak directly with an officer can still do so.
Similar programs are already used by law enforcement agencies across the country, including in Tracy, Manteca, and Ceres.
“It’s not like we’re breaking new ground here,” Jenkins said.