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Raleigh Using Computerized Map System To Make Streets Safer

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Tracking crimes with the help of a computer mapping program is designed to make Raleigh streets safer. The crime mapping program is working so well after just a few months that the City Council just agreed to hire a fourth full-time employee to work on it.

Mapping crime in a city the size of Raleigh can be a hard task, but Maj. Jim McNamara of the Raleigh Police Department is taking it a step further by dividing the city into six districts and recording every detail of every crime. The maps show the type of crime, the time of day and whether it happened in a home or business. Written reports include even more information about suspects and methods.

Crime mapping is credited with solving a series of burglaries in Raleigh. Authorities said a number of burglaries on Glenwood Avenue led police to a BP station on Wilmington Street in south Raleigh. Undercover Officers sold stolen property to someone inside and found a store clerk carrying three stolen credit cards.

Sylvia O'Kelley, who lives in the Five Points area where some of those burglaries were committed, said she supports any technology that helps police nab criminals.

"It seems like a very good idea because I think using that kind of technology (will help the police) quickly apprehend someone. We have had some burglaries in our neighborhood. It sounds like a good idea to me," she said.

McNamara knows crime mapping works. He said it led to a double-digit drop in crime when he was a precinct commander at the New York Police Department.

"You had to be aware of what was going on and why and what are you going to do about it," he said.

McNamara said by dividing the city into districts, residents know exactly who to call when there is a problem in their neighborhood. He also hopes to make the information they are collecting available online.