Sheriff's department gives public glimpse of crime with online tool

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Valencia County Sheriff's Office recently joined two other local law enforcement agencies in offering the public a new way to learn about crime in the community.

A crime mapping tool, accessible through www.raidsonline.com, allows users to see what types of criminal activity have occurred in different parts of the county, said Valencia County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Noah.

The service, provided by RAIDS Online, plots and analyzes crime data uploaded by the sheriff's department. New data is entered on a daily basis, Noah said.

Users can click on the site, then click on the map of the United States, select a state, county or town, or users can just search for Valencia County.

Along with the sheriff's department, Los Lunas and Belen police departments have offered the service since earlier this year.

Users of the site can also select a specific street, and limit their search to particular dates and types of crimes, ranging from homicide to theft to DWI.

Noah said the website features unique icons identifying where a crime occurred, in which users can click to obtain more information about the incident. While users can find out the general area where the crime took place and the type of crime the case number, no names are provided, and in the case of sex offenses, the specific address is not available.

"There's a whole list of types of crimes you can select to see, or you can select all or just one," Noah said. "The data is automatically uploaded every morning at 2 a.m. The program automatically pulls the information from our computerized reports."

While the program is primarily designed as a public-information tool, Noah said it will also help the sheriff's department notice patterns in certain areas of the county.

"It has some analytical data, such as showing how much time is spent on each incident and crime by the day of the week and even hours," Noah said.

"The public can use this to see what's going on in their area, or even if they're thinking about moving to a certain area," Noah said. "They can also sign up for crime alerts, so they can enter their email address, they'll get updates about what's going on in their neighborhood."

The program is also available on smart phones to the public, including Apple and Android devices.

Noah said the sheriff's department decided to become part of the program after a member of the public inquired about why they weren't doing it.

It was then that Noah decided to look into it.

"It's free for us and it's free for the public," he said. "I think it benefits everyone."

The program also allows the public to select a feature to find out where all registered sex offenders live in the county. It will give the name, address, a picture and the offenses the person is convicted.

The website allows users to view a data grid that shows each crime in list form as well as submit anonymous tips to law enforcement about certain crimes.

The Belen Police Department has been using the program since the beginning of the year, while the Los Lunas Police Department went online in June.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.