The department’s online crime-mapping technology, which allows users to access crime data for all parts of the city, has been disabled twice this year. The crime maps were first taken down in January and February to enable the department to reorganize data for newly realigned police districts. The information blackout coincided with a 40 percent increase in violent crime. The technology was disabled again in mid-September during the conversion to the new system.
The department says the switch will pay off in the long run by enabling greater productivity and intelligence on investigations.
“The new system also provides for more robust crime analysis in a user-friendly manner,” Ms. Crump said. “This will better inform our decision-making for critical tasks such as resource deployment and the ability to quickly respond to trends in crime.”
In Arizona, the Mesa Police Department reported experiencing a 10 percent reduction in violent crime within the first year the I/Leads system was implemented, in part because of the timely information-sharing the system allowed.
But in Fairfax County, which adopted the system in 2010, it was reported that the agency saw a significant drop in the number of traffic tickets written because police officers found the program to be too cumbersome. The Washington Post reported in 2010 that during the first five months the program was in use, the number of traffic tickets issued decreased by 28 percent, or approximately 17,500 tickets, and led to a $1 million loss in revenue.
The new system also is not proving popular among D.C. officers on the street.
“It is not user-friendly. It’s not intuitive,” said one 10-year department veteran who was not authorized to speak publicly about the new system. “If this was a website, no one would ever come back twice.”
While the new system has advantages, including making it possible to look up reports from any police district in the system rather than retrieving a paper copy of a report from a district station, the patrol officer said the processes for tasks such as report-writing or research are clunky and time-consuming.
“We’re all stumbling around just to get down the basics. No one wants to learn the advanced features,” he said.
Expecting a learning curve with the new system, D.C. police continue to train officers and to respond to issues they identify, Ms. Crump said.
“Like any transition, some of the officers learned the system quickly, and they like the expanded capability,” she said. “Others are more comfortable with the former system they have been using for the past several years.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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