For District residents who want to know how safe their neighborhoods are, the Metropolitan Police Department’s crime map offers statistical glimpses at crime rates throughout the city. Unfortunately, the MPD map is static, text-heavy, and difficult to navigate.
Not so with a new crime map launched this week by the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents DC’s police officers. The new map, available at CrimeDC.com, uses the same data as MPD’s map, but presents them in a dynamic, visually grabbing format. Beside responding to mouse clicks and drags, it also includes crime rates in easy-to-read charts and graphs. Individual crimes, such as the 52 homicides recorded since January 1, are represented by individual bubbles.
“We wanted to provide a resource we just don’t think is available to people,” says Delroy Burton, the police union’s president.
The union’s map also permits users to search by neighborhood; the MPD map, while taking individual addresses, is based more on MPD’s district and service area boundaries, which many residents might not know off-hand. (Shaw, for instance, is easier to remember than Police Service Area 307.)
When clicking on a neighborhood, a user is presented with a snapshot of that area’s most common crimes. For instance, clicking on the outline of Chevy Chase brings up a doughnut chart showing that thefts from automobiles accounted for half of the neighborhood’s reported crimes in May. Clicking on individual crimes brings up a Google Street View photograph of the block on which they occurred.