Harper Woods offers new crime-mapping resource to public

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published June 22, 2018

 File photo by Alex Tekip

File photo by Alex Tekip

HARPER WOODS — On June 4, the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety formally announced that it has partnered with CrimeMapping.com to better inform residents about what law enforcement is doing in the community.

CrimeMapping.com is an interactive, web-based map showing crimes that have occured in communities that have partnered with the website. This now includes Harper Woods. 

“We have a great relationship with the community, and we have some very motivated people in that community, and we want to continue that relationship and increase our transparency whenever possible,” said Harper Woods Department of Public Safety Chief James Burke. “This allows people to keep an eye on their own neighborhood and let them get notifications on certain types of crimes, if they’re interested.”

The map allows residents to view all reported and verified criminal activity near any address. It also allows viewers to specify their search through means such as selecting certain crime types, date ranges and other factors. It will pull incident data every 24 hours from the Harper Woods police records management system.

Residents can subscribe to crime alerts and receive email updates when new crimes occur near a specific address. Only crimes that have completed a review and approval process by the department are displayed, and cases under review are excluded from the daily updates. 

CrimeMapping.com has quickly become a well-established and popular site for law enforcement agencies, with many across the country adopting it in the last several months.

“It was announced to the public on June 4, but we had a soft launch four or five days before that,” Burke said. “(The site’s creators) have had the site up and running … so everything was working great by the time we joined.”

The Harper Woods Department of Public Safety was notified of the service through the Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System, an Oakland County program that Harper Woods officers frequently work with. 

“It’s through Oakland County’s CLEMIS service that provides resources like information sharing, fingerprinting services and so on. We’ve partnered with them for 25 years now,” Burke said, “This is another feature they offer departments. This way, there’s no additional cost to the department for being part of CrimeMapping.com.”

 Membership in CLEMIS costs $6,600 per quarter.

Among the other departments to have used the system is the Ferndale Police Department, which partnered with the site several years ago.

“The capabilities are pretty broad and deep, and we don’t use it to the extent we could, but are happy with the use we do make of it,” said Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown. “We don’t get a lot of feedback from residents on their experience with the site, but we encourage people to use it. It gives you a sense of what’s occurring in your neighborhood. People are under the impression that there is crime around every corner, but if you pull up the facts from sites like this, you can see it is often at an all-time low.”

Burke said that so far the results of using the site in Harper Woods have been good, and residents seem to be welcoming the addition.

“We’ve gotten some good responses from the community already,” he said. “We got phone calls from people who were impressed with the service, and we haven’t gotten any negative feedback so far. … We are always looking to hear from residents, to hear what they think about services like this.”