PAWTUCKET â€” For police scanner junkies, neighborhood newshounds or citizens who simply want to stay informed, the Pawtucket Police Department has a new on-line website that tracks local crimes.
On Friday, city officials held a press conference at the Emergency Operations Center on Armistice Boulevard to unveil a public crime-mapping website called RAIDS Online. The website can be accessed at www.raidsonline.com. Representatives from several neighborhood associations and community groups attended the meeting to learn more about the program.
Police Chief Paul King said that eight months ago, he was asked by Mayor Donald Grebien to explore ways of getting information about criminal activityâ€”as well as stopping dis-information--out to the community. He was also informed by the mayor that he had a zero budget to work with. In stepped BAIR Analytics Inc., a national software company offering its RAIDS Online program as a free service to any law enforcement agency or public entity that wishes to participate.
King said that the Pawtucket Police Department has signed on to this program and is, in turn, providing the service to the public free of charge and also at no cost to the Police Department. He said the Pawtucket Police Department is the first department in Rhode Island to partner with BAIR Analytics on the RAIDS Online program.
King said the police department wants to share information with citizens, community groups, crime watch groups, elected officials, business associates and others in the city. He said he hopes it will lead residents to be more watchful of incidents in their neighborhoods and to report any suspicious behavior to police.
â€śWith this direct knowledge at their fingertips, we can quickly make everyone more aware of any crime trends occurring in the neighborhoods. The better informed people are, the safer and more secure our neighborhoods will be,â€ť King said. He added that this technological approach â€świll pay dividends by leading to fewer crimes, increased safety and improved relations with everyone we serve.â€ť
Mayor Donald Grebien said that since discussions with various neighborhood associations, housing organizations, business owners and residents, he has been â€ślooking for efficienciesâ€ť in ways to get the community more engaged. He noted that technology is the way to go in being able to do more with less and said the offer of the no-cost RAIDS Online program fit his plans perfectly.
â€śWe think this will be a great tool to keep the public better informed while strengthening the relationship between our Police Department and the community, and helping to fight crime, all at no cost to taxpayers,â€ť stated Grebien, who also serves as the city's Public Safety Director.
â€śThe next step will be to invest in technology to do more on-line reporting,â€ť Grebien stated. He said this could eventually involve the community being able to file certain types of police incident reports on-line as well as notifying city officials about â€śquality of lifeâ€ť issues such as pot holes, missing street signs, street lights being out and other such problems.
Lt. Roberto DaSilva gave a demonstration of how RAIDS Online works. He said the program operates in synch with the Pawtucket Police Department's records system to automatically upload crime information on a daily basis and keep it updated on a map. The program uses Google Maps to display the location and basic information for crimes in any area of interest to the user.
DaSilva showed how a user can enter an address and find out what crime incidents have taken place within a certain radius. Icons showing various types of crimes pop up on the map, along with brief information about the type of crime, date and time it occurred, and the police report number associated with it. To maintain privacy, just the street is listed (address numbers are left as blanks), although the location of the icon does allow a user to pinpoint where a crime occurred.
Through the program, a user can also obtain a listing of all of the crimes that have taken place in a certain area or between specific times and dates. Particular crimes can be sorted and tracked, such as burglaries or vandalism, to see if there is a pattern or trend. Additional graphs, charts and maps show what types of crimes occurred on certain days and what time of day they took place.
In addition, residents can sign up to receive daily, weekly, or monthly e-mails with a breakdown of crimes in their area, DaSilva said. He added that all crime data for 2011 is also available on the system.
DaSilva said that BAIR Analytics offers the basic RAIDS Online program at no cost to municipalities as an incentive to eventually purchase a more in-depth software program. He said the city won't be making an investment in the next phase until the budget allows. He added that he would like to see police departments in surrounding cities and towns sign on to the program as well, to make for a more coordinated effort.
According to its website, for more than 20 years, BAIR Analytics Inc. has provided cutting-edge analytical software, consulting and training solutions for law enforcement, public safety, national defense and academic institutions worldwide. Company founder Sean Bair is a former police officer and crime analyst.