Posts Tagged ‘NYPD’

Statistics about crime are nothing new, but maps display that data in ways that are more helpful than the usual mind-numbing columns of figures and numbers.

Maps communicate a lot of information at a glance, including data about particular crimes in specific geographic areas of interest. Want to know how many crimes occurred last week in the Minneapolis police precinct where you live? There’s a map for that (PDF). Thinking about buying a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood in California? There’s a crime map for that, too.

Police departments around the country have long provided statistical crime data, but The New York City Police Department recently began offering an interactive map of crime in parts of the city that uses an overlay to Google Maps. There’s some controversy over the map’s accuracy, but it does allow users to explore different parts of the city and at least get a sense of crime rates there.

New York Police Department

New York Police Department’s interactive crime map.

But, it’s not only police departments that offer this service. Real estate web sites, such as, offer it as well.

Interested in buying a house in Atlanta? Click on the area you’d like to live, choose what crime types you’d like to see displayed, and the system automatically generates what’s known as a “heat map” of criminal activity. You can correlate this with school locations, median property values, and other data to help make your home buying decision.

Crime Map Atlanta

Buying a home in Atlanta? Scout out crime hot spots first.

Just interested in checking out crime info for your own region, city, or neighborhood? There are also stand alone web sites, such as, that do nothing but provide crime data, down to descriptions of specific offenses they’ve mapped.

Planning a Vegas vacation? Check out a crime map before booking your hotel.

Planning a Vegas vacation? Check out a crime map before booking your hotel.

One major challenge with all this, of course, is the “garbage in-garbage out” phenomenon. The maps are only as good as the crime data used to build them, and there’s currently no simple way to verify the completeness or accuracy of any given crime map.

So, use at your own risk.

What crime mapping applications have you used? Leave a comment below and share your experiences.

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A pair of stories in recent days pointed up the complexities of modern policing and the tremendous challenges faced by people who work in the field.

The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal recently published a long form article outlining their review of thousands of documents related to federal ATF agents’ duping mentally disabled informants and engaging in other troubling behavior.

Image courtesy of Pixomar/

Image courtesy of Pixomar/

According to the article, agents went so far as to encourage two teens – one who was mentally disabled – to get large tattoos on their necks promoting a fake store front that agents operated as part of an undercover gun sting.

And that was only one of a series of findings identified in the article. Others included:


I saw the below video for the first time last week and I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, it’s definitely funny. I guess there’s just something inherently comedic about authority figures fumbling around to corral (or not) errant kids while the Benny Hill sound track plays in the background.

Broadway Bomb – Benny Hill Style – 2013

I wish real life was like that sometimes.

On the other hand, it feels like a cheap shot to laugh at cops who are just doing their jobs and – more importantly – acting with a lot of restraint. I can just imagine what the officers were actually thinking while impotently shifting that barrier from one end of the intersection to the other, while boarders streamed around them with impunity.

To their credit, in this video at least, they maintained their cool and just tried to make sure no one got hurt.

That’s what I like to see cops doing as a matter of routine. Instead of the stereotypical macho, ass-kicking, over-the-top parody of a police officer that some try so very hard to cultivate, I want to see cops being human, owning their frailties and mistakes, and doing whatever they can to serve the community.

Save the tough-guy BS for when, and only when, it’s really and truly necessary.

So, getting a cheap laugh out of the Broadway Bomb vid feels somehow disingenuous. I’m not anti-cop, but I’m also no fan of anything that smacks, even remotely, of a police state either. I want high-quality policing that recognizes the inherent right of citizens to be free from government abuse and tyranny, and that also appropriately bends to the will of the community.

I want to see cops, just like in this video, acting calmly and professionally, even if that makes them look a little foolish at times. 

Have a great weekend!

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Whether you agree with the New York judge’s decision to abolish “stop and frisk” practices by the New York City police department, some of the specific requirements of the ruling are pretty interesting. One that hasn’t received much attention yet is a requirement that some officers wear a body camera to record interactions with citizens. The mandate is only for a pilot project at this point, but both politicians and police unions there oppose it.

Actual police encounter captured by a police body camera

Mayor Bloomberg himself has spoken out against the cameras. His arguments are pretty vague, though, if not illogical, given that his administration fully supports widespread use of public surveillance cameras in the city.