GFPD rolls out online crime mapping tool

The Great Falls Police Department rolled out its new crime map this week.

The city is using crime software that allows community members to see a general location, when a crime was reported and the types of crimes officers have been responding to.

The interactive technology allows community members to run reports for specific neighborhoods and track crime trends.

GFPD creating registry of security cameras to aid in investigations; considering purchase of crime mapping software [2019]

“We hope increased awareness will empower community members to more frequently report suspicious activity, to take measures to better protect property, and to have a deeper understanding of what GFPD does to serve and protect Great Falls every day,” according to GFPD.

The software extracts data from the GFPD record management system through an automated import process and is update every 12 hours to focus on reports of criminal activity. It does not include traffic stops, crashes, lost children/persons, animal related incidents, alarms or other non-criminal law enforcement activity, according to GFPD.

GFPD expected to roll out the mapping tool in March, but was delayed due to COVID-19 and some software issues, according to Chief Dave Bowen.

GFPD said the software has a $15,000 upfront cost and $8,000 annually with the initial funding coming through a state grant, Bowen told The Electric. That funding also allowed the city to upgrade software at the 911 dispatch center so that the city now has one provider allowing for seamless integration between the records management and call-taking software and provides features not previously available, Bowen said.

The annual recurring cost will be GFPD’s responsibility and covered through their budget, Bowen said.

Last summer, GFPD told The Electric that the software is made by the same company that makes the public safety software suite the city and county use.

Last summer, Lt. Doug Mahlum and Capt. Rob Moccasin of GFPD’s Support Services Bureau talked about the department’s plans to get the software during a quarterly Council of Councils meeting and discussed the software in an interview with The Electric last summer.

The tool doesn’t give addresses for where incidents or calls for service occur, but gives a block so the police and public can have a visual presentation of where hotspots are, they said last summer.

Mahlum said last summer that the software has more functions on the backside for emergency responders to help them better visualize trends and respond quickly to problem areas. Often when police notice trends in an area and increase their presence, the troublemakers move into other areas. But, when they’re pushed out of their comfort zone, Mahlum said, that’s often when they’re more likely to get caught.

Billings is currently using the same software.