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Monday, August 19, 2013

CHANGES TO CHARLOTTE'S CRIME MAPPING SYSTEM is a company that sends out free crime alerts, customized to whatever area is requested.  They sent out an email today to Charlotte area residents about the decision to convert Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s crime data from the difficult-to-use public data system to a private system the city (we) will pay for.  Citynewswatch will be on the lookout for information about any purported cost savings and welcomes input from the CMPD, as always. 

For years, citizens have noted and complained about the disappearing data from the CMPD site.  This is separate from the concern than not being user-friendly.  So a newer, easier-to-use system won’t help the missing and possibly inaccurate data problem.  In fact, contends it will cause a bigger transparency problem.  Here is the content of the email they sent (with emphasis added): (
Earlier this month, the Charlotte Mecklenburg PD decided to privatize your crime data.

What this means is the information about crime which occurs in your community is now regulated by an outside vendor called Crime Mapping, a company based in California, now has control over of how, when, and if you will have access to crime affecting your neighborhood. 

And the irony is, you're paying them to control it and limit your access.

I wish there was a less painful way to describe it, but the truth is you pay to fund a police department, they collect information, they pay the vendor crimemapping to take it, and the community is left holding the bag.

Six years ago, Charlotte was on the forefront of being transparent with its data. But, as technology has gotten much less expensive and the demand for transparency increased, the Charlotte Mecklenburg PD has elected to move backwards. 

The paid vendor has specifically objected to SpotCrime providing you crime data in alert format. And,  the Charlotte Mecklenburg PD has expressed the need to "control" the data to the public by using a proprietary vendor. This type of control may be an effective way of limiting crime information and the perception of crime, but it is by no means in the spirit of this democracy. 

In the six years that SpotCrime has been mapping crime data in Charlotte, we have sent over 3 million SpotCrime alerts to Charlotte area residents at no cost to the department or the public. In that time, we have never received any criticism from Charlotte Mecklenburg PD. 

Thankfully, most cities in the US are moving to an open source unrestricted method of delivering crime data to the public. I implore you to reach out to Chief Monroe, your elected officials, and your governor. Ask them to make the crime data available for anyone to use.

Chief Monroe
Phone: 704-336-2337
Feedback form:

City Manager Ron Carlee
Phone: 704-336-2241

Governor Pat McCrory
Phone: 919-814-2000

We are all in this fight together, and there is no reason why everyone should not have equal access to this crime data. Why would any police agency take steps to limit how the public shares information and how the press reports on crime data?


Colin Drane
ReportSee Inc., 300 E Lombard St., Suite 840, Baltimore, MD 21202

Any questions about the process of, signing up for free crime alert subscriptions, what changes will affect their reporting, etc… can be directed to Spotcrime at the contacts they provide freely. 

All feedback is welcome.  Many Charlotte residents are still looking for the Significant Event Logs and other public information Chief Rodney Monroe removed from with promises in August, 2010 to have it back up in the near future.
See these other related prior blog posts, too:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. SpotCrime has been mapping crime in Charlotte for the last six years. To our estimation, we've been mapping over 500 crimes a day. Roughly - over 1 m. crimes mapped at not cost to the city or the public.

    Here's an illustration of the crime data being turned off to unrestricted public access: