COLLEGE PARK – College Park City Councilman Fazlul Kabir has used his personal website to map crime in his North College Park district for almost ten years. Last week, the rest of the city joined him.
During the May 28 College Park City Council meeting, Director of Public Services Bob Ryan unveiled the city’s new monthly crime maps, which are posted on the city’s website.
The maps include data from the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), beginning with this calendar year, compiled by a member of the department’s Joint Analysis Intelligence Center.
In addition to a map of overall crime statistics, there are maps which further categorize the data, including maps of property and violent crimes.
There are also separate maps for noise complaints and quality of life citations, which would include incidents such as someone being cited for carrying an open alcohol container.
“I appreciate this, I’m glad we’re really looking at ways to make this information more transparent and consistent,” Mayor Patrick Wojahn said. “I think there’s a lot of different information that gets out there in different ways and, to me, this is a great comprehensive effort to try and get it all in one place every month.”
Ryan said the maps will be updated around mid-month with the prior’s month data and will also be linked to on the city’s newsletter every week.
Currently, the maps include only data from the Prince George’s County Police Department and do not include data from other agencies, such as the Maryland State Police, University of Maryland Police Department or Maryland-National Capital Park Police, among others which serve College Park.
Although Wojahn said the maps are “worlds ahead” of what the city used to have, other agencies would need to be included for a more comprehensive view of city crime. He and other councilmembers pointed to crimes handled by the University of Maryland Police Department as an example.
“I think we are missing a piece if we don’t make sure that all those crimes are included as well,” he said.
Ryan did not dismiss the possibility of adding other agency data in the future.
“Maybe if we can get the data together, we could make a better composite of everything,” Ryan said.
District 2 Councilman P.J. Brennan said the project provides a good foundation for understanding crime trends in College Park. He said the data could be used to make better-educated decisions on how to allocate resources and provide a way to consolidate communication in terms of crime reporting.
“It’s kind of been hard to follow and see alignment with all the different agencies reporting within our city and having this consolidated resource, I think, is going to be really helpful,” Brennan said.
Some councilmembers said they would like to see the maps incorporate additional layers of data and provide more information about the crimes listed. City Manager Scott Somers said the city would look into adding interactive features.
“Hopefully, in the meantime, this will suffice,” Somers said.
District 3 Councilman Robert Day said the maps were a good first step for the city.
“I think this is a great start and this something that was really needed for the complete city,” Day said.
Although he said he would like to see more interactivity and data included, Kabir, a District 1 councilman, said he was happy the city has unveiled the maps and that it was helpful that the maps include quality of life issues as well.
“I’m really excited to see it,” Kabir said. “I’m really passionate about mapping crimes.”