Washington, D.C., police have launched a Web-based crime-mapping tool, allowing anyone to create a map of a sliver of the city and see what reported crimes happened there this year, says the Washington Post. Cartoonish icons are used to pinpoint crimes. A Zorro-like mask indicates an armed holdup; the red figure of a person lying in the street, which denotes a homicide. The site also features goblin-looking masks for muggings, money sacks for thefts, gas cans for arsons, and cracked houses for burglaries.
The site is at http://crimemap.dc.gov. Most police departments make crime numbers available, and many have Web sites that allow people to search for the number of crimes in specific areas. Few can match Washington’s site, with its searchable fields that include museums, stadiums, gas stations, and check-cashing locations. The site’s level of detail rivals or surpasses those in Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles. “Some people may think that if you tell people about crime in their neighborhood, they will be scared off,” said police spokesman Kevin Morison. “We think if we give people information, they will be prepared.”