This screenshot shows the multicolored icons that dot the Sterling Heights Digital Crime Map May 3. Police say the crime map was designed to inform residents and promote transparency.

This screenshot shows the multicolored icons that dot the Sterling Heights Digital Crime Map May 3. Police say the crime map was designed to inform residents and promote transparency.

Sterling Heights police plot out online crime map

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 6, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights police hope a new online resource will help put a more transparent way of crime fighting on the map.

On April 22, the Sterling Heights Police Department announced its online Digital Crime Map. The map lets residents see what reported crimes and police response incidents are happening in their neighborhoods, as well as the crimes’ frequency and concentration.

The city’s information technology staff set the tool up to collect police incident data over a 72-hour time span and to update frequently. The color-coded information icons dot the map almost as soon as incidents are logged.

“By plotting what, when and where crimes are occurring, Sterling Heights police leadership will be able to use the resulting visual data to identify crime hot spots,” IT Director Steve Deon said in a statement.

The only incidents that don’t make the cut are ones that are undercover, or if public knowledge would put someone in harm’s way.

Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski said the map is updated every hour to reveal three days’ worth of police- or crime-related events in Sterling Heights.

“So if a neighbor sees police cars in an area and wonders what happened over there, it’ll give a general description of the case, what was happening, and the date and time of the incident,” he said.

Dwojakowski said police already have mapping technology that they use internally. The online crime map is a way to be more transparent with the residents “so that they see exactly what’s going on.”

“And they should,” he said. “They pay taxes; they pay for this Police Department. They should know what’s going on in their city.”

Police hope that the crime map will increase residents’ knowledge and awareness to the point that crime deterrence is possible. Police officials said that the map website will allow for anonymous tips from people who have information on a crime that occurred.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli explained why police set the cutoff time of mapped-out incidents at 72 hours, adding that old material for something that happened six months ago won’t be as relevant to residents as the most updated statistics.

“We not only want to keep the citizens informed — we also want to utilize it with the assistance of citizens,” he said. “They’re our eyes and ears out in public.

“If they have information of what is going on in the neighborhood, if they’re informed of what’s going on, they can provide valuable tips to our Police Department of possible suspects and information that they might not have known of if they didn’t have this information.”

Police officials said that the data could be helpful down the road for strategic deployment of officers when certain crimes are seen to keep occurring in an area.

See the map by visiting www.sterling-heights.net/crimemap ping. For more on the Sterling Heights Police Department, call (586) 446-2800.

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