With a few clicks of the keyboard, Hanover Park residents can get a digital look at crime in their neighborhood.
The Hanover Park Police Department will begin mapping crimes online where users can track the location and time of incidents across the village or in parts of town.
It's the latest embrace of new technology as the department continues to build community relations after a string of four murders in spring 2009. Later this week, officers will host the popular "virtual ride-along," when they will document a night on the job and answer questions on social media.
"Residents can basically get to us (through) many different channels now, as opposed to just 911 or showing up in the lobby of the police department," Lt. Andy Johnson said.
The crime map, run by BAIR Analytics, is expected to go live on Raidsonline.com in March. Hanover Park joins a handful of DuPage County towns, including Bensenville and Darien, partnering with the site.
The department's record management system will update the map once a day, but the map will likely not show sex crimes.
Users can sign up for email alerts that notify them of an offense near their home or business, a valuable tool for Neighborhood Watch groups or homeowner's associations, police say.
"We think that mapping incidents will lead to greater transparency with the community," Johnson said. "And it's going to be an excellent intelligence gathering tool and a safety tool."
BAIR Analytics also will roll out software that gives patrol officers an analysis of their beat on their squad car computers. Or, officers can pull up a detailed, villagewide map.
"It gives them a little bit more of a picture to see crime patterns and the type of activity that's going on, so they have the ability to develop a patrol strategy," Deputy Police Chief Tom Cortese said.
Before BAIR, the department's full-time crime analyst compiled reports by crunching data and using Excel spreadsheets -- an "extremely complicated" process, Johnson said.
"With this program in place, he'll be able to do projects that used to take him a day in a matter of minutes to hours," Johnson said.
While the website is free to residents, the police department will spend about $13,000 to launch the crime map, in addition to annual subscription fees.
Not so tech-savvy? BAIR will host webinars to train residents on how to navigate the site, Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Officer Tim Allen will live-tweet his shift from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. Follow the department's Twitter account, @HanoverParkPD, for the virtual ride-along. The tweets also will appear on the department's Facebook page, an account that's garnered nearly 1,000 likes.