New tool in tracking crime

HOUSTON Eyewitness News has been using our exclusive Crime Tracker now for three years and have had an overwhelming response from our viewers. Having access to crime data has been extremely effective in helping people make decisions about their safety and the safety of their programs. What HPD unveiled today is very similar to what we've been doing, only it's in real time.

With certain types of property crimes on the rise because of the economic downturn, concerned citizens worried about criminal activity in their neighborhood now have access to real time crime data in a way like they've never seen it before. All it takes is the click of mouse.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said, "What we're trying to do is create awareness, not fear, but create awareness so people can do a better job of understanding what's going on around them and take appropriate action."

It's called an interactive crime map, and it's part of HPD's brand new crime website which police unveiled today. The ground breaking technology lets the user search for four types of violent crimes by address, zip code, police division, police beat or by a police district. You can go back 24 hours or look at incidents that have occurred over the past 30 days.

HPD Captain Don McKinney explained, "So they'll immediately have access to that information and can perhaps feed information back to us to help us catch people that are burglarizing homes or robbing stores or whatever the case may be."

Users can also look for three non-violent offenses such as burglary, theft, and auto theft. Yet authorities caution users, through a lengthy disclaimer, that the information entered into the system is only preliminary data and does not reflect or identify any particular area as 'safe' or 'unsafe.' The overall goal is to make the initial information available and user-friendly.

"It's much more insightful," said Captain McKinney. "If you take about 10 minutes just to get used to it and learn how to navigate it, they'll find they can move through it without any problems."

You can visit the website for yourself and look up crime statistics in your neighborhood.

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