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Township gets crime mapping tool

April 18, 2013
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Austintown Township will have a new tool for residents to track crimes. Within the next couple weeks, a new website will feature the township's police records of events.

The new system is being assembled by Mega Group, who sets up "crime mapping" sites for local governments. It is a web-based site that will have a map of Austintown that can be used to track where recent crimes have taken place and what those crimes were.

"Ninety-nine percent of crimes in Austintown will be reported on the map," said police Chief Bob Gavalier. "Only domestic violence incidents will be exempt."

The system works by giving Mega Group access to the police department log. When the department logs a report for a crime, the company will take the report and place it into the crime mapping system. When a resident visits the website, they will see an icon in the block where the crime appeared. By clicking on the icon, a brief description of the crime will be displayed.

"It doesn't give specific addresses, just the block where the crime occurred," Gavalier said.

He said it will be a good tool for watch groups to stay on top of what is happening in their neighborhood. He said it could also help police as residents may have information about a crime that could help solve it.

Another benefit of crime mapping will help those looking to move into Austintown. He said his department is always getting calls from people looking to move to the area and from realtors asking about crime rates. They can use the crime mapping to answer their questions.

Gavalier said the system is similar to one that is currently up and running in Milton Township. He said Youngtown and Poland Village also have a system in place.

It costs $600 per year to be on it, but the benefits are great, he said, including graphs and charts his department can use.

Once it is up and live, Gavalier said one only need visit the township website, click on police, then click on the crime mapping button. There will also be links to show sex offenders in the township.

One other link Gavalier mentioned was the "Beyond Lookout" link. This one posts wanted people and wanted information on recent crimes. Residents can respond online and help police locate and solve crimes.

Gavalier said the crime mapping page is assembled, but it will take a few more weeks before it has been tested and made ready for public use.



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