Seattle Launches New Online Crime Map

The City of Seattle released a new page on their website that maps crime locations.  See site.  It looks like a mashup of Google Earth and a sex offender map that the King County S.O. provides.   But in this database multiple crimes are listed at the address that they occurred.  In addition, you can click the link to the individual icon to see a copy of a corresponding police report.

Seattle crime map shows locations of various offenses with links to police reports

According to the Seattle Police Department press release, the site was developed to provide access to crime information that people were asking about, and also to further the department’s goal of transparency.   The new site is so popular that the site crashed due to the number of visitors.  The site is interesting, and everyone can see the crimes in their neighborhood, but it is hard to see what the real practical purpose of the site is.  My older son goes to college in Seattle, and when I ran the crime stats in his Belltown neighborhood for the last 30 days, I did see that a man was shot to death a block away from my son’s apartment.  Under the city’s monopoly-like icon system, a homicide is represented by a black figure lying prone with a red background.   As a criminal defense lawyer, I can’t really think of much of a practical purpose this site would have for my practice.  The press release did not mention how much this new site cost, or how expensive it is to maintain.  I do know that Seattle has had a budget deficit, and was contemplating layoffs last year.   Under the city’s icon system, each type of crime has its own symbol.  The only crime that does not seem to be listed are sex crimes.   This was done to protect the identity of the victim.   You have to wonder a little about how this would affect the real estate market in Seattle.  Are prospective home buyers going to consult this map?  Particularly when a viewer zooms out, Seattle does seem to have a lot of crime.  I have got to believe that the biggest fans of this site are going to be amateur sleuths who will study the map with an OCD-type fixation on patterns of crimes.  Remember the Green River Killer and how many people followed that case and “assisted” in the investigation?  If you click the icon on this new map, it is amazing how much data is in the online version of the police report.  Below is a copy of the report pertaining to the most recent shooting in Belltown. (Click on the image for better resolution)

What do you think of this new site?

One Response to “Seattle Launches New Online Crime Map”

  • Frohm:

    Do you know Steve if there is a similar crime map for here in Spokane? Does Brown’s Addition truly live up to its nickname “Brown’s Addiction”. How many heroin needle icons are in that neighborhood in the last month? Also, is it true that the policing efforts on West First have just pushed the crime to the central valley area? Realtors want to know!

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
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1312 North Monroe Street, #140
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