The San Bernardino County, Ca., Sheriff’s Department yesterday became the region’s first large agency to offer an interactive public crime map through its Web site — one covering all 20,000 square miles of its jurisdiction, reports the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Residents may type in an address and see every reported crime within 2 miles in the past 90 days, from assaults to thefts to prostitution arrests. The system, run through a San Diego-based company that already provides internal mapping to the department, will cost less than $3,000 a year. “The public has a right to know exactly what is happening in their neighborhood,” said Sheriff Rod Hoops. “This was a goal of our department: to provide current crime statistics in a user-friendly format.
To a local real estate broker, the new system has more positives than negatives. Prospective homebuyers commonly use such data to confirm impressions they’ve already formed. “Data could be misused, like some nice area where a burglar just went through could be seen as a high-crime area,” said Mike Novak-Smith. “Without interpretation, you don’t know how good it is. But mostly, I think this is providing the public with reliable data so they can research themselves.” San Bernardino sheriff’s officials expect few of the issues recently experienced by Los Angeles police, whose customized mapping system entered crime addresses that it could not read as occurring at the department’s downtown headquarters. The Omega Group, which will run the system through its crimemapping.com Web site, has provided the sheriff’s internal mapping for years, and it uses software from Redlands-based ESRI and Google for the public site.