It used to be that if a police department wanted to plot out a rash of burglaries or car thefts occurring in their patrol area, it had to use colored coded pins and push them into large wall maps at the station. Crime mapping, as it is called, is a great way to get the "big picture" of where crimes are being committed and possibly observe patterns that may help solve or prevent future crimes.
"Using PCs and the most recent upgraded software, crime mapping is much more user friendly and more easily customized," said Sheriff's Deputy Bill Wafful, who recently spoke to the Central New York PC Users Group at the Liverpool Library on the department's use of crime mapping.
"With the new crime mapping technology you can spot patterns more easily," Wafful said.
Along with the visual map comes plenty of related information to the crime committed, such as exact location, time the crime was reported and other information that was gleaned from the investigations in and around the crime scene. Putting all this data to use and seeing a pattern on a computer screen map can often give the detectives and officers an opportunity to formulate a plan to follow in anticipation of the criminals next move.
As colorful as they once were, the days of the paper map and pushpins are over due to their limitations. Often the maps took up a lot of wall space, the pins usually did not reflect previous years, and they were labor intensive to put together. They were also very limited in the amount of information that could be communicated.
"Today, laptop computers can generate not only the maps but allow large quantities of information to be added to the maps," Wafful said.
Veiw the new crime mapping
To get a sample of what crime mapping looks like go to sheriffwalsh.com and click on Crime Mapping. This site will only illustrate the following crimes: assault, burglary, criminal mischief and larceny. The department's maps can put far more crimes types on the map, add adjacent maps if necessary, or break the map down by zip codes, census tracks, political boundaries. It can pinpoint the homes of individual parolees and persons on probation.