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Home  |  News  |  Online map puts crime info at citizens’ fingertips

Online map puts crime info at citizens’ fingertips
Monday, May 14, 2012

GARDEN CITY, SC - It takes less time to sign up for a crime alert than it does to break into your car. And it could save you the trouble of an auto break-in.

The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety this week rolled out its map of the Garden City. It’s not an ordinary map, however. This one points out to the public what type of crime is happening where.

“What they will be able to do is access and use the crime mapping,” ODPS Chief Wendell Davis said. “It has a link in it to sign up for community alerts.”

The system went online last week. It doesn’t list every minor crime. But it does give the public an idea where burglaries, auto break-ins, or any major crimes are happening.

Concerned citizens can access the site to determine what type of crimes are occurring in any area of the city where residents may work or live.

Davis said the idea is to create a citywide community watch program by creating a two-way street of communication. If an area is suffering from an increase in burglaries, residents can go to the website and send police a tip.

Police have used crime mapping for years, Davis said. But that information stayed in-house with few means to distribute any type of alert.

Residents who sign up will be put on alert if there is an increase in crime numbers.

“We just need people to take advantage of this,” Davis said. “Case in point, we had 10 burglaries in the last two weeks. If we had this information out, theoretically, we could have reduced those burglaries.”

During a demonstration of how long it takes to set up an account, the Times and Democrat was signed up in less than a minute.

Authorities say the map gives relatively precise information. Rather than showing a burglary happening in Orangeburg, the mapping system indicates a burglary happened on the 200 block of Broughton Street, for example.

This week the map indicates three auto break-ins have occurred on Mall Terrace Court near the Prince of Orange Mall.

A man was arrested in that same area last week and charged with multiple counts of breaking into automobiles.

Some type of sexual assault happened off Stonewall Jackson Boulevard and a robbery is shown in the area of Edisto Village, according to the map.

The alert system will be used for other concerns as well, including traffic updates and weather conditions, Davis said.

“Natural disasters, traffic accidents,” he said. “This is a conduit of information.”

An officer has been assigned to search for the crime trends, mark them on the map and then get the information to the public via the alerts.

While patrols will be increased in affected areas, the public is asked to be “hyper vigilant.” They can report any suspicious activity in the alert area anonymously. For anyone reporting tips, ODPS can be reached by phone at 803-534-2812 or 803-533-5900.

Davis, however, stresses that any emergency requiring immediate attention should still go through the 911 system.

“If it’s an emergency, obviously we want a phone call,” he said. “We don’t want to confuse this contact information.”

The crime map can be accessed by going to the city of Orangeburg’s website, then clicking, in order: Departments, Public Safety, Divisions, Special Operations and then Crime Mapping.

To sign up for the crime alerts, visit http://www.nixle.com.

“We want to have everybody involved, and this is a means to have everybody involved,” Davis said. “If you can accept a text message, if you have e-mail, you can be involved in this.”

Source: http://thetandd.com/news/local/online-map-puts-crime-info-at-citizens-fingertips/article_309257e8-9d72-11e1-b246-001a4bcf887a.html

If you, or someone you know, have any information regarding any crime, you are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. You could earn a reward up to $1,000.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crimestoppers by calling 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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