A useful crime-mapping tool by the Spartanburg Public Safety Department will soon be just a mouse click away for residents.
The department has upgraded software through grant funding within the past year, and now officers can map crime trends from computers in the office or out in the field via their laptops.
"If an officer responds to a car break-in, they can go online and see if there have been other car break-ins in the same neighborhood," said Jerry Steele, crime analyst for the public safety department.
Capt. Regina Nowak, a public information officer for the department, said the system will keep residents better informed of what's going on in their neighborhoods.
"The system is searchable and allows the citizen to look for certain types of crime or to look for crime trends or patterns they might not otherwise be aware of," Nowak said. "Hopefully as people educate themselves about what is going on around them it will enable them to not become a victim" of crime.
A resident will be able to click on a point on a map, and the system will be able to map crimes with a mile, 1/2 mile, 1/4 mile or even within 50 feet of the location, Steele said. Information available about points on the map will include arrests, juvenile custodies, fire calls, accidents or calls for service.
"There will be six databases it will pull from," Steele said. "Everyone with Internet access will have access to it."
The system will not give an exact address of a crime, or the name or phone number of the person who called the police, Steele said. It will give the date and time of an incident reported, the street, what type of call and supply an incident report number.
"You're not going to get any identifying information," Steele said.
Incident reports will not be accessed through the system, but a person may still use the incident report number and request a copy of the report from City Hall.
Other maps will be available, showing aerial views or topography of an area, Steele said.
Steele said he believes the system will be very valuable to the public.
"I get calls constantly from people who are buying property or moving to Spartanburg and they want to know what crime is like on a certain street," Steele said. "It will show it to them on a map."
The system will be able to map crime within 50 feet of the campuses Converse or Wofford colleges or the University of South Carolina Upstate, for example, Steele said.
Neighborhood watch groups will also be able to draw an area on a map encompassing their watch and get crime information to present at their monthly meetings, Steele said. Residents will be able to download all crime information for one area, and it can be broken down into percentages for each type of crime as well.
"Any day now," said crime analyst Jerry Steele, the feature will be available to the public.
When the mapping becomes available to the public, Steele encourages those interested in logging on and familiarizing themselves with the various functions.
"It does take a little playing around to get exactly what you're looking for because there are so many options," he said.