Redlands, California— January 24, 2008 - The Shelby, North Carolina, Police Department has built a geographic information system (GIS)-based ComputerStatistics (CompStat) system using ESRI ArcGIS software that is helping to lower crime rates and better share information. Map-based tools help the agency see exactly where crimes have been reported and effectively respond to events in a dynamic fashion.
“Our staff is dedicated to the community and to the people we serve,” says Jeff Ledford, captain, Shelby Police Department. “We’re constantly looking for new and improved methods to reduce crime and make our community one of the safest cities in North Carolina. GIS helps us tremendously here.”
The city of Shelby is a community of about 21,000 residents covering an area of approximately 19 square miles. The city’s police department is a full-service agency composed of 86 full-time employees.
The department implemented ESRI software-based Crime Analysis Tools (CAT), an ArcGIS extension that analyzes crime patterns and calls for service. Developed by Bradshaw Consulting Services, Inc. (BCS), an ESRI business partner, the application uses a highly intuitive, industry-focused interface to assess crime, predict future incidents, and create a common operating picture for optimized decision support.
Viewing and analyzing incidents by crime type and on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis helps commanders comb through volumes of data stored in record management systems (RMS). They use GIS to look at district breakdowns of reported incidents, repeat calls, and areas where particular crimes have spiked above average. These analyses help district managers compare and contrast what’s happening in other districts. Spatial analysis is used for all types of crimes including homicide, sexual assault, robbery, larceny, and car theft. The query results, once visualized on a map, are then shared agency-wide.
The department builds GIS maps that show the link between the locations where vehicles are stolen in relation to where they are recovered. Crime-density maps show areas where a particular type of crime, such as theft or driving under the influence, is especially high. In another example, the agency tracks car accidents to see if there are any areas that are high-risk crash zones where more patrols can be placed.
In the future, the Shelby Police Department is looking at training sergeants and other staff to use GIS tools to produce their own custom maps that they can use in the field daily.
“The key to success, when you’re using any type of crime trend analysis or crime data analysis, is to get that information in real time to the front-line troops,” explains Ledford. “That’s how we’re evolving our process now. We want to more efficiently get that front-line officer who is getting ready to hit the street real-time information. So we’re looking to train field sergeants on using the software directly, so they can go in and analyze a type of crime or series of crimes by day or week or month, whatever they want. Then they can just point and click and get the data mapped and present it as a report or graph.”
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