Americans increasingly can track crime trends block by block as more police departments contract with Internet-based crime-mapping services, reports the Wall Street Journal. Since 2007, more than 800 police departments have begun working with Web sites like crimemapping.com, crimereports.com, and everyblock.com. The services take live feeds from police record-keeping systems and post the data on their sites.
The Web sites are free for consumers; they charge police departments about $200 a month to participate and sell advertising. Many policeepartments have been reluctant to share too much information with the public out of concern it could be used as a political tool, says Thomas Casady, police chief of Lincoln, Ne. The rise of Web services that publish records online has forced some departments to reconsider. Some of these sites operate independently of the police department, putting pressure on police to participate Casady says.