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Communities / Crime

The pros and cons of Wilmington’s new crime-mapping program

The comprehensive program gives communities a broad look at local crime. And that might come with downsides.

CrimeMapping.com lets you see crimes as they're entered into the WPD database. (Screenshot)

Crime mapping is one of those things that is totally necessary for public safety, but also easily exploitable. (Remember the infamously racist SketchFactor app that, thanks to community input, became less about crime rates and more about the presence of non-white people?)

Wilmington’s new crime mapping program on CrimeMapping.com, unveiled on June 8 by Mayor Mike Purzycki and Police Chief Robert Tracy, allows residents (or anyone who’s interested) to map crimes near a selected location within a stated time period (from one week to six months).

It helps see patterns — for example, both Trolley Square and the East Side have a good number of vandalism arrests and car break-ins. Downtown sees more larceny and vehicle theft. Hilltop/Tilton, with its “sketchy” reputation, has been quiet, and Browntown has had a shocking number of burglaries.

“The data for the Wilmington-specific portion of www.CrimeMapping.com is extracted from the WPD’s records system on a regular basis, allowing citizens to view up to six months of crime data, or up to 1,000 records by various search categories,” the city writes in a press release.

You can also set up an email alter that will let you know when a crime is committed in a selected area. You can select or deselect crimes from a list ranging from vandalism and disturbing the peace to robbery, sex crimes and homicide.

This could be good — if there’s a pattern of home invasions in your neighborhood, it’s good to know — but it also has the potential to feed into knee-jerk Nextdoor paranoia, where kids on bikes are reported to the police because CrimeMapping.com said a car in the neighborhood had been broken into.

Overall, it’s a useful tool that’s much more informative than the Delaware Shooting Map, which often shows crime clustered in areas with gang activity only. The comprehensive tool shows that crime is pretty spread out, and the patterns aren’t exactly what might be expected in all cases. Has someone committed internet fraud in your neighborhood in the last six months? Now you’ll know.

Let’s just hope it does what it’s meant to and helps reduce crime in the city.

Companies: City of Wilmington

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