Youngstown police offer crime map

YOUNGSTOWN – The Police Department hopes citizens will be more involved in their neighborhoods through the Internet.

The department has teamed up with BAIR Analytics to make a crime map available online for residents to check out crimes reported in their neighborhood.

The map is called RAIDS Online. Residents can log on to the city’s website and scroll through the map or sign up for an email alert for a report every day of crimes within five miles of their address.

The system can also have the department to send alerts to people about crimes shortly after they occur. Police provide the data to BAIR, which makes it available to users.

BAIR has been providing computer and software services to police departments across the country for 20 years.

Police Chief Rod Foley said the reasoning behind the project is to keep residents more informed about what is going on in their neighborhoods, especially property crimes.

Property crimes can be hard to solve, he said, because often little evidence is left behind and the criminals are hard to spot. But if people know what to look for, they may be able to see suspicious activity and contact police to investigate, Foley said.

”We always feel if people are more informed, they’d be more attentive to what’s going on,” Foley said.

There will be training for block watch groups on how to use the system and the benefits it offers, he said.

”I think people realize we only have so many resources and that we need their help and need them to be more vigilant in their neighborhoods,” Foley said.

Councilman Nathaniel Pinkard, D-3rd Ward, chairman of the Safety Committee and former police chief for Mill Creek MetroParks Police, said he agrees that giving residents the ability to know what is happening will spur them to help out.

”It’s always good for citizens to be more involved and be able to see the data,” Pinkard said.

He said people who know what is going on will be more likely to call police when they see something out of the ordinary.

”A well-informed public will be more apt to report things,” Pinkard said.

The program does not cost the city anything and is free to users as well.