By Victoria Landers
In January, the Lubbock Police Department launched a free digital crime map, allowing citizens to view reported crimes in their neighborhoods.
The map, which operates on RAIDS Online and is powered by BAIR Analytics, was created to give Lubbockites a simple way to see the types of crimes reported around them.
“There are different vendors out there that provide a similar type of services, but we had to find the right one,” said Lieutenant Ray Mendoza, public information officer for the Lubbock Police Department. “One that was user-friendly, one that was easily accessible, and we found it on RAIDS Online.”
The map’s default setting is to show only data from the past month unless a date is specified. Each offense on the map is categorized by the nature of the call. After clicking the markers, details of the case come up.
The data goes back to 2014 and is currently updated every six hours, which Mendoza said is roughly how long it takes from getting a call to getting the case into their system.
“It takes a long time,” Mendoza said. “First, the officer gets the call, he gets a case number that’s generated and that’s automatically what’s going to go on RAIDS Online, and then the actual report has to be written.”
The department wants to ensure accurate crime reporting, Mendoza said, which is another reason for the delayed data.
“Sometimes we get a call, for example, that’s for a burglary, but when you get out there you realize, it wasn’t actually a burglary, it was actually theft,” he said. “That’s why it takes a little bit of time, to make sure the actual reporting is accurate.”
The department worked on getting the service out for quite some time, striving to maintain victim’s privacy, Mendoza explained.
The only information shared on the map is the block on which the crime happened, the case number and the type of crime that occurred.
Shelia Patterson-Harris, a District 2 candidate for City Council, said the map is a step in the right direction, especially because it corrects common misconceptions about Lubbock.
“I thought [the map] was great, and the reason I say that is because it actually gives the citizens an opportunity to actually see what’s going on in their area,” Patterson-Harris said. “I feel like there has been a large misconception for certain areas, especially in the eastern part of Lubbock, and so for people to actually pull this information up and see what’s going on, I think people will be surprised when they take a look at it.”
Mendoza said the fact that some people think more crime occurs in one part of Lubbock than in others is a perception issue.
“There’s different times of the day, for example, where you’re going to have different types of crime going on in a certain segment of town,” Mendoza said. “However, once night falls and there’s no more [crime] on the industrial side, then that goes away and we start hitting more in the residential.”
Patterson-Harris, a Lubbock native and former employee of the Lubbock County Juvenile Justice Center, said the crime in Lubbock “fluctuates – it comes and goes, up and down,” but agreed the crime level in the city has, overall, remained the same.
Long-time Lubbock residents, such like Audra Coffman, a mother of three, say the map is essential for those who are raising kids.
“I think the LPD crime map is extremely helpful, especially for parents,” Coffman said. “We’re in the process of moving, so in this day and age, in addition to looking at schools, parents also need to be mindful of the crime in the area they are looking at moving their family.”
Mendoza said since the map has been active, the number of phone calls he normally receives has decreased because answers to the questions he would normally answer can now be found online.
Mendoza said he hopes everyone in the Lubbock community will check out the map.
“I think it will allow individuals to kind of see what’s going on, be aware of the type of offenses that are taking place, and how to carry themselves and be a little more watchful,” Patterson-Harris said. “Not only for themselves but for the other individuals in the community.”
The map can be accessed on the RAIDS website or through the RAIDS mobile app.