The Toledo Police Department has made a sound investment in technology and the citizens it serves by unveiling a new, interactive online crime map. An informed public will be more engaged in keeping the community safe.
Many other cities use crime mapping with positive results. Toledo’s map (crimemap.toledo.oh.gov) allows users to plug in an address and search for nearly all crimes reported within a half-mile radius in the past two months. Residents can submit anonymous tips using the map, and can sign up for email alerts for crimes reported in a designated area.
As police forces shrink, officials are turning increasingly to community-based crime-fighting approaches. Data collection is a crucial tool to track crime trends, for uniformed officers and neighborhood watch groups.
To combat crime effectively, citizens must work with police and take safeguards against becoming victims. The map should not incite panic, but it can remind residents, for example, to lock their car doors if there has been a rash of auto thefts in their neighborhood.
The Police Department has mapped crime for years, to identify “hot spots” and enhance patrols in those areas. Still, officials have at times declined to share such data with citizens. In 2012, then-Mayor Mike Bell refused to release the city’s map of gang territories; The Blade created and published its own map, then obtained the department’s map. The Blade also has published its own local crime map since 1997.
Mayor D. Michael Collins’ administration appears to have learned that crime-fighting transparency isn’t optional. The new online map will go a long way to empower the community.