January 11, 2009

CrimeReports.com..first impressions

Leave it to the City of Lakewood to make sure its citizens are the last to know about new developments that really affect them. We noticed over on www.LBReport.com that LBPD unveiled a third party crime stats website that looks pretty good so far. It is called CrimeReports.com. Users can log in to receive customized crime reports and set up an auto emailed report telling them crimes that have been reported with a certain distance from their selected address. Clearly it took some real private sector brains and capital to put this together using raw data supplied by a number of local agencies, including LASD and LBPD. LAAG has been requesting this type of site from the city for some time. It looks like this was a joint effort by multiple cities and agencies but for some unknown reason Lakewood did not want to tell its residents about the service. Nothing on Lakewood's website as of today nor any emails from the city on this new site. Of course we saw no mention of the site on the LASD.org site either which is not really surprising as the LASD.org site wins the prize for the poorest design, poorest user friendly navigation and poorest up to date information of any law enforcement agency of that size (8,000 officers and counting). Given that this CrimeReports.com site was given information by most if not all LASD contract cities, you would have thought that they would have wanted to get the word out. The CrimeReports.com site appears to have data all the way back to July 1, 2008, however we are still trying to determine when the site went live for Lakewood residents to use.

Here are things we like from what we can see so far:

* alerts can be set up and emailed to you;
* it is multi jurisdictional so that you can see crime occurring just over the city border and how your city fares compared to other cities and neighborhoods;
* it seems to be fairly up to date showing crime occurring in the current day; this will likely vary depending on when the LASD releases crime data and when the site owner updates the map; this is likely an automated schedule;
* it is Google maps based so its user friendly;
* it includes registered sex offender information and a fairly good selection of crimes;
* users can drill down by crime, location and time;

Limitations or areas requiring further study or refinement:

* Not clear on how many total days the crime info is kept in the system in a viewable way;
* Not clear how to get printable reports (as opposed to mapped reports);
* Not clear how information gets into this site or its accuracy;
* Clearly this is reported or officer observed crimes but does not report all call data where a report was not generated;
* Not clear what crimes are not on the report, such as quality of life issues i.e. noise complaints, fireworks, parking issues;
* Not clear how far back the data goes or how long it will be available on the site;
* Not clear what this is costing Lakewood taxpayers or if it is included in the LASD $9 million a year contract cost to Lakewood. From the CrimeReports.com website they report the following monthly fees:

For Universities $49/month
Up to 50K citizens $99/month
Over 50K citizens $199/month (likely Lakewood so $2400 per year)

"Custom pricing applies to agencies serving contract jurisdictions. Please contact us for additional information"

If all this costs is 2400 a year its a good deal as that is about what one day of vacation time costs the city for one LASD deputy!!

Once we work with the site in more detail we will report further. Once you have used the site please give LAAG your feed back on this crime site at updates@LAAG.us

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA
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