The Lawrence Police Department appears to be somewhat behind the times in providing online crime data.
Kansas University’s Department of Public Safety has unveiled a new Internet system that maps criminal reports at campus locations. With just a few clicks, users can access detailed information about what incidents were reported to campus police and where they occurred.
Granted, Lawrence police have a larger area to cover and more reports to process, but other communities — including Topeka, Lenexa and Overland Park — have made the effort to provide similar online access to crime reports. Why not Lawrence?
A Lawrence police representative told the Journal-World that the department had considered crime mapping but was concerned about the cost of the service. KU’s system cost several thousand dollars a year, which doesn’t seem prohibitive, but if it is, the Topeka Police Department is using a mapping program that is free. Topeka crime analyst Jim Anderson said the system is receiving positive response from the public and has proven to be user-friendly for the department.
“It takes me about five additional minutes (per day),” he said.
Five minutes? That seems like little enough time to dedicate each day to providing information on police reports to the public in a timely manner.
It’s information that residents can use to make decisions about safe times and places to walk or drive. It’s information they’re entitled to, and modern Internet technology makes it relatively easy to provide.
“We’re always looking for ways for our statistics to get out to a more broader public,” said KU Public Safety Chief Ralph Oliver. “It’s the wave of the future. … Mapping is becoming a standard for communication.”
The Lawrence Police Department needs to get busy and catch up with its peers. Leaders in City Hall need to push the department to come up with a concrete plan to enter the computer age with an Internet mapping system that gives the public access to the kinds of information being provided by law enforcement departments at KU and other nearby cities.