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Crime / Data / Municipal government

How mapping tech holds Philly cops accountable

"If I challenge a commander, he can't hide from the truth because that information will come forward on the map," said the Police Department's Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel.

The Police Department's Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel said the department's new mapping technology helps him keep districts accountable. (Photo from the Daily News)

The maps don’t lie.

It’s one way the Police Department‘s year-old mapping technology system helps police brass hold cops accountable, said Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel, a 28-year department veteran who now oversees all police districts and detective divisions.

The department’s commissioners use the technology during the department’s monthly crime briefings, where commanders present about the activity in their district.

The system logs every type of police action, like arrests and pedestrian and car stops, and plots it on a map. That way, during the crime briefings, top cops can see exactly where a district’s cops have been, what they’ve been up to — all with the click of a mouse.

If a captain says his officers have been in a certain area, Bethel can check.

“If I challenge a commander, he can’t hide from the truth,” Bethel said, “because that information will come forward on the map.”

Similarly, if a district’s crime is concentrated in a certain area, Bethel can make sure that district’s cops are focused there.

“They can’t sit over on the left side of the district if the crime is on the right side,” he said.

Before the new system, which debuted in the fall of 2012, Bethel said he would have had to access three different databases to get this level of information. Now, with easy access to various types of data, he’s able to set a standard for how commanders talk about their districts during the briefings.

Said Bethel: “I say, ‘Don’t come in here, BS-ing me, because I’m gonna look at the data.'”

Companies: Philadelphia Police Department

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