Clarendon Hills PD Considers Publicly Mapping Village's Crime
Allowing residents to see the village's crimes with a couple clicks of the mouse would increase transparency and community awareness, Chief Ted Jenkins says.
The Clarendon Hills Police Department is considering a free partnership with BAIR Analytics that would lead to the online mapping of local crime, including burglaries, thefts, and whatever other offenses the department would want to publicize.
Chief Ted Jenkins presented the idea to the Clarendon Hills Village Board Monday night. In addition to showing the community where crimes have been occurring, Jenkins said residents can sign up for email alerts regarding nearby crimes, and can leave tips on the website to assist police. BAIR could update the map as frequently as the village wants, the chief said.
Jenkins said the program would increase transparency and public awareness, and give residents a true shot of the community’s crime.
“I’m proud of the crime rate we have in town here,” Jenkins said. “It’s one of the lowest in the state.”
The village could decide what crimes they want to include on the map and what they don't want to include. For instance, Jenkins said, domestic batteries might be something that wouldn't be mapped.
Trustee Paul Flood said he’s concerned that making the maps so accessible might make it hard for residents to sell homes in areas of the village that show multiple incidents.
“That’s the downside,” Jenkins agreed. “The good side is, it doesn’t happen that often.”
Trustee Allan Alongi suggested waiting to give Jenkins the go-ahead until the community weighs in on the issue. He said there are resident email groups that discuss such topics.
“I’d like to hear what they’d say about this,” Alongi said. “I’m inclined to like things like this, but I’d like to hear about the unintended consequences.”
The board went with Alongi and postponed any official stance until the community has a chance to chime in.
Village manager Randy Recklaus said a lot of time, when burglaries and other offenses happen, “rumor-mongering” follows and the number and nature of incidents become exaggerated. The mapping program, he said, could help solve that problem.
“I think it’s more likely that there’s negative rumors that we can squelch, than bad information that will get out there,” Recklaus said.
According to its website, BAIR is “an analytical software and service company dedicated to providing public safety, national security and defense entities the innovative tools and subject-matter expertise needed to identify, analyze and resolve problems created by the actions of offenders and their networks that threaten our citizens, our communities and our nation.”
The company does work with the U.S. Department of Justice and Brazil’s Ministry of Justice, among other organizations. Jenkins said they make money off of certain services, but small community mapping it does for free. In Illinois, eight municipalities, including Chicago, utilize the mapping program.
Jenkins said he would seek feedback from the police departments of towns already using the mapping on how it’s working for them.