Crime / Data

Baltimore’s SpotCrime just added a national missing persons database

The Baltimore-based company is adding a new database showing key public safety info. It's the latest effort to make more police data publicly available.

Police tape in Baltimore. (Photo by Flickr user Something Ferdinand, used under a Creative Commons license)

Baltimore-based SpotCrime is adding a nationwide missing persons database to its independent crime mapping and alert service.

The new database will feature a picture, age, description, and last known whereabouts of a person reported missing. The company hopes this will help to increase awareness and solve more missing persons cases. It’s also another step in Drane’s long term goal of increasing transparency in police data.

“Our nation is in the midst of a movement demanding better police accountability. When a police agency increases their transparency to the public, they improve the reputation of the organization, and the relationship it has with its citizens,” founder Colin Drane said in a statement. “Providing people with information about crime can improve safety and foster goodwill and engagement with law enforcement.”

According to National Crime Information Center (NCIC) records for 2020 analyzed by the company, more than 540,000 missing persons cases were reported to the FBI. Nearly 90,000 cases remained active as of the end of the year.

Founded in 2008, SpotCrime says more than 20 million people interact with its services monthly. It started out by offering crime alerts that aggregated info down to the neighborhood level, and maps that showed location. It has since expanded with databases for cold cases and most wanted lists, as well as offering trends and analytics.  The service was pushing 300 million crime alert emails annually back in 2019 when a mobile app was released.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

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