Local police precinct community council leaders praised – with some reservation – passage of a Bronx city councilmember’s bill that pinpoints neighborhood crime for the public on their computers.
Passed 50 to 1, the so-called “Crime Mapping Bill” by Councilman Fernando Cabrera mandates the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to create the public online database.
Guaranteed to become law thanks to a veto-proof super majority, the bill allows users to type in their Bronx neighborhood by address, zip code or NYPD precinct to check the number and type of crime incidents.
The NYPD’s weekly CrimeStats report currently breaks down the major crime categories only by precinct.
“It has its pros and cons,” Bob Bieder, head of the 45th Precinct Community Council covering Throggs Neck and Co-op City said of the new mapping . “If they start showing CompStats by sector, then the bad guys will know they’re deploying cops in those sectors.”
Police precincts break down their neighborhoods into several boundaries called sectors, giving commanding officers a clearer idea where to focus their resources.
Bieder suggested locals can always visit the local precinct and talk to the community affairs officers to discuss crime in their local neighborhood.
Joe Thompson, overseeing the 49th Precinct Community Council covering Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Van Nest and Allerton, echoed Bieder’s sentiment.
“It’s a double-edge sword,” said Thompson, a retired NYPD detective. “People have a right to know, but people can misinterpret the crime pattern that’s going on.”
But Cabrera doesn’t see the database as a “tip off to the police are coming.”
“They already know the police have an eye on them,” said the west Bronx councilman.
Cabrera hopes this bill will help community-based groups and locals suggest where police should put their resources.
“It’s very hard to make decisions when you have incorrect data, or if you have no data at all,” said Cabrera, who was inspired to draft the bill after The Norwood News ran an investigative series several years ago over the lack of transparency in crime reporting.
“The more we’re open,” said Cabrera. “The more we can deal with problems.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383