In case you have been living under a rock and missed this, the recent Op-Ed by Comstat veteran, Brian Denzer, in the Times-Picayune blasted the continued, irritated concern of citizens regarding the release of crime statistics from the NOPD as a real tool for addressing violent crime in the city simply by transparency. The theory is that if the NOPD would release timely information, citizens can then provide more eyes and ears on the ground and use it to create new tools in their own neighborhoods and assist NOPD in stemming crime by identifying trends earlier with on-the-ground observation.
Many people are wondering what has happened to the Crime Camera contract the Mayor has been promising. In the meantime, potential witnesses who happen to see the wrong thing, at the wrong time are still being killed in our streets, like Helen Hill. Crime cameras could help alleviate this senseless loss of life and help the NOPD get some solid anonymous evidence to keep violent criminals in jail.
Access to current information has been a long-standing issue among residents who have returned since Katrina. The citizens of New Orleans were called upon to be part of the larger planning process since Katrina and have all been very engaged in making things better with this opportunity to voice their fundamental concerns. Every planning session I attended noted Crime as the number one issue for rebuilding New Orleans with a better qualtiy of life in the city. Citizens were smart enough to know that this issue was closely linked to better jobs, economic developement and improved schools as part of the long-term issue as well. We demanded all of this. Citizens were loud and clear in late 2005. They are still screaming about the issue of crime cameras today. The Nagin adminstration remains cavalier about this and all citizen concerns and despite the continued pile of victims, it seems we have gone nowhere.
However, thanks to the initiative of Thom Kahler’s website which only covers the 8th district, he pushed the T-P to help get faster access to crime reports on behalf of citizens. Thom’s bold and free-speech approach to crime coverage makes us all wish we lived in the 25’s.
Without the Crime Camera project, which remains incomplete, we are all getting more disenfranchised about the administration since this was a huge concern city-wide in the two-years of planning hell we went through. It all seems to have gone out to lunch with the Mayor and his wife in Dallas. Where has that contract money gone?
A few diligent citizens have used the Times Picayune’s statistics to create excellent online tools using this information. Thanks to Thom, and Rob and Brian Denzer and people like Baty Landis and Ken Foster who have pushed the issue for a few years now. Here is where we are today with online tools citywide. If you know of anything in your neighborhood, please let us know.
Current Online Crime Tools:
Citizen Crime Watch
Rob Schafer and Ben Gauslin have created this very useful tool. Using Google Maps, it provides a visual view that’s very familiar and (hopefully) easier to understand than page after page of text. Linking incidents to news and police reports provides much-needed context to the pins on the map. And since every incident is stored in a database that data can be examined to generate statistics over time to help understand crime rates, what areas are dangerous, what crimes are committed when, etc.
New Orleans Murder BlogAll things crime. All things New Orleans. This blog doesn’t condone murder, or death.
New Orleans Crimeline by Thom Kahler.
We believe if citizens have information about threats to their safety they will hopefully be able to take precautions against becoming victims.
Sites with archived information:
This site is not currently mapping crimes in New Orleans but gives some good background information on crime mapping initiatives in other cities. One great example is Washington, D.C.
In 2004, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) was asked to develop a program called Citywide Data Warehouse (CityDW), formerly known as DCStat, to support the District’s Hot Spot crime reduction initiative. To do so, CityDW designed a data warehouse to store agency data and created various presentation tools in an attempt to increase transparency by publishing more information across agencies and to the public.
Today CityDW ’s mission is to provide a centralized access point for enterprise-wide data with a focus on providing real-time operational data from multiple agencies and sources that enables decision support and government transparency. To that extent, CityDW works with the Office of the City Administrator, the CapStat program, and district agencies supplying both data and business intelligence tools. Residents and businesses now have access to information through our Summary Reports and Data Catalog and Data Feeds.
Crime Reports.com Thankfully, we have Citizen Crime Watch, a similar program, created by volunteers who have devoted their time to constructing a similar site for New Orleans. The issue we could press as citizens is to get access to map the “calls for service” as they come in. Running a routine on the computer could extend this current application to map these calls-for- service as they happen, automatically. If only the City would permit access to that information.
City of New Orleans, NOPD:
The NOPD website doesn’t map crimes in a timely manner, they wait til reports are cleared through a larger bureaucracy, which gives them the opportunity to manipulate the numbers to their advantage, not ours.
NOPD Crime Stat Maps
Advocacy Groups Related to Crime:
Silence is Violence
New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission
Court Watch New Orleans
Police Assoc. of New Orleans
Safe Streets NOLA
Times Picayune Forum, for when you just want to bitch about the problem:
Times-Picayune Crime Forum