Mapping crime can help law enforcement agencies protect the community more effectively in the areas they serve. Simple maps that display the locations where crimes or concentrations of crimes have occurred can be used to help direct patrols to places they are most needed. Policymakers in police departments might use more complex maps to observe trends in criminal activity, and maps may prove invaluable in solving criminal cases. For example, detectives may use maps to better understand the patterns of serial criminals and to hypothesize where these offenders might live.
Using maps that help people visualize the geographic aspects of crime, however, is not limited to law enforcement personnel. Mapping can provide specific information on crime and criminal behavior to elected officials, the media, and the community.
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When a member of the community becomes aware of criminal activity whether as a victim or a witness, they may call 9-1-1 to report it. That is referred to as a call for service. After an officer is dispatched to investigate the incident, they may file a report, and the compilation of those reports is referred to as reported crime.
Analysis of calls for service provides an unfiltered view of what crimes are being reported to police, and with automated dispatch systems, the data is much more current. Police reports provide much greater information about the details of criminal activity, but not all reports are entered and available for analysis immediately.
Our Apartment Calls for Service page provides information for those interested in evaluating local apartment complexes, and further analysis of police reports. Other sources of crime analysis may focus on arrests or on the number of reported crimes cleared by the arrest of a suspect, criminal convictions, or sentences rendered.