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Springfield Police Share Crime Information On Public Website


    The largest police department in western Massachusetts has opened an online portal to share real-time information about crime with the public. 

   The Springfield Police Department will make daily information about incidents of crimes --including homicides, assaults, car thefts, burglaries and vandalism – available on the public national website CrimeReports.com.

      By sharing the information in an easily accessible format, Police Commissioner John Barbieri said he hopes it encourages people to provide tips that help police solve, or even prevent, crimes.

  "The goal here is to get the public involved," said Barbieri.  " One of the biggest problems police departments across the country have is citizens who don't call the police because they don't want to get involved."

  The website displays a street map of the city with pins indicating where crimes have occurred down to the block level along with icons denoting the types of crimes.  The information can be shared on social media.  People can sign up to receive email alerts when crimes are reported in a specified location. There is a tab to report tips and upload pictures or video to the police.

  " It really is a remarkable product," said Barbieri.

    He  said another helpful tool on the website is a section that allows people to follow current crime trends in their neighborhoods.

  " The more knowledge the public has the better informed the 911 calls will be," said Barbieri.

  The site will eventually contain Springfield crime data for a two-year period.

  Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno praised the new initiative and said it will aid the police in getting repeat violent criminals off the city’s streets.

  " That is what the residents say to me, ' Please. You and the commissioner and the police  get these repeat violent offenders off the streets'," said Sarno. "  They want them off the streets and that is exactly what we are doing."

  The information-sharing website is part of a $500,000 investment the city has made to set up a real-time crime data analysis center.  Police officials said they expect the center to be fully operational early next year.

  Steve Sebestyen, a product manager with Motorola Solutions, which owns CrimeReports.com, said there are about a 1,000 police departments, including Holyoke and Westfield, that subscribe to the site.

  " There are no specific statistics that say it has driven down crime, but it has created a more meaningful dialogue with the ( local law enforcement) agency," he said.

  The website is currently available only in English, but a Spanish-language site is being developed, according to a Motorola spokesman.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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