Map out parish crime with new Sheriff’s Office app
Cary Armand, the coordinator for Information Technology for the Sheriff’s Office, holds up a phone showing crime mapping software in action.
Residents can find a direct link to the St. Charles map at www.stcharlessheriff.org or can search for St. Charles Parish at www.crimemapping.com.
The map will show approximate locations for crimes such as arson, assault, burglary, drug and alcohol violations, D.W.I., homicide, car theft, robbery, sex crimes and vandalism. For instance, parishioners can now see visually that in the past month the highest numbers of vehicle break-ins or theft in the parish have occurred in the Luling/Boutte area off of Paul Maillard Road.
Crime reports note the block address for each crime and some additional details, and new reports will be uploaded to the map about every 24 hours, in the morning. The system will show all crimes within the past 90 days.
The system will not be in real-time for a reason. Champagne said that each report will be reviewed before being posted so that no errors are made. For example, when a burglar alarm goes off it would say it was a burglary if the reports were posted automatically, but he said that more than 90 percent are false alarms.
Champagne hopes that the map, which is also available as an iPhone application, will be a useful tool to local civic groups and organizations.
"A well-informed public has always been an essential element in the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office’s fight against crime," Champagne said.
In the past, he said that the Sheriff’s Office email alerts and other initiatives have led to arrests. One example he gave was an incident in which a white van was spotted in Norco and some citizens believed the driver was trying to abduct children. Once the office sent out information about the van, it was quickly located thanks to citizen input and the problem was quickly resolved.
Champagne said that the new mapping system is "obscenely cheap," costing the office only $100 per month to maintain. The online service is free for citizens to use.
Champagne said that parishioners seem to want more online access to information on the parish’s crimes.
"Citizens are…hungry and thirsty for information," he said.
But sometimes he said that residents can take that hunger too far and cause panic online.
"Sometimes instead of calling us…it goes wild on Facebook," he said. "We ask people: don’t spread rumors through social media – call us to verify."
Parishioners can watch an explanatory video about the crime mapping system by visiting the Sheriff’s Office website and selecting "Crime Mapping" on the left side.
Also recently released is an online system to pay for traffic tickets and property taxes. A link can be found on the Sheriff’s Office website.
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