Online crime maps - Frequently Asked Questions
About the Map Application
There are three My Neighborhood Maps that display police information, two icon-based maps - the 9-1-1 Incident Response Map, the Police Report Map - and the geographically based Statistics Map.
The 9-1-1 Incident Response Map, is a snapshot of the last 48 hours of Police and Fire dispatches throughout the city. As soon as an incident is considered safe to close, it will populate the system. This depends on officer and citizen safety issues, scene security and the sensitive nature of ongoing investigations. In some cases it may be a few hours before a scene can be considered closed, and in other cases it may be nearly real-time. The information for this map comes directly through the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.
This map is the quickest option for finding out about sirens you may have heard, or an incident going on nearby within a short timeframe.
The Police Report Map is based on initial police reports taken by officers when responding to incidents around the city. The information enters our Records Management System (RMS) and is then transmitted out to the map. This information and its corresponding map icons will populate the map within 6 to 12 hours after the report is filed into the system. Within 2-3 days some of the narratives (Homicides, Assaults, Robberies and Burglaries) will include additional detail.
The data for this map are archived and can be searched across months and weeks. It is a great way to get an idea of the ongoing event patterns in your neighborhood in a way that is more searchable.
The Statistics Map is based on monthly crime statistics. It does not display icons. Instead it shows you geographical police beats. This map will tell you about the police beat your neighborhood is located in and how it compares to the rest of the city on certain crime patterns.
Because it only covers major crimes (also called Part I Crimes) this map will not show other crime types (like narcotic activities) or non-crime incidents (like disturbances). Rape data are available in monthly crime statistics, because this information is not geographically pin-pointed linked to a specific crime report on the Statistics Map.
The crimes displayed on the Statistics map have been vetted and reflect what are reported as the official crime statistics to the FBI. Because of this, they are the most accurate source to compare major crime patterns, and trends over time.
Some police reports can include multiple offenses. For example, suppose an officer responds to a report of trespassing. Then at the scene, he discovers the person trespassing also has as a warrant out, which prompts an arrest. This would then show up both as a trespass and as a warrant arrest. An icon would display for both offenses, but they would share the same report.
The specific icons displayed on the map depend on the order they are selected on the left-hand panel. So - using the trespassing/warrant example - if you "turn off" arrests but still have trespassing "turned on," the incident will still show as a trespass on the map.
There is a different system that populates each map, the 9-1-1 Incident Response Map is powered by Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and the Police Reports Map is powered by the Records Management System (RMS).
CAD and RMS have some slightly different ways of categorizing incidents. For example, in CAD you have call types that include Mental Health" and "Suspicious Circumstances" but these same categories are not used in the RMS system.
If you directly compare the two maps, the vast majority of the icons will be the same, but where there are differences, this is the reason why.
The dates are based on the occurrence of the incident. If the exact date of the incident is unknown (i.e. coming back from vacation and finding your house has been burglarized) the incident will be given a date range. When this happens, you will see incidents that overlay the dates of your search.
About the Data
These reports are made available to the public in accordance with the Public Records Act (See Revised Code of Washington, RCW 42.56).
Making the majority of these reports available online is a service the Department is providing to the public to promote easier access and greater transparancy. This is at our discretion and is beyond the requirements of the Public Records Act. To balance the needs of public access vs. personal privacy, all reports are redacted and some types of crimes are not made available as part of this system.
If you would like to request a report that is not listed here, you may complete and submit a Public Disclosure Request.
The police reports shown on the map are the initial reports of crimes in the city. Often on further investigation, the crime report will be shown to be unfounded, or the crime type will change. Additionally, there are a great number of activities reported that, while suspicious (such as prowling), may not be true "crimes". These will not show up on the final monthly crime statistics.
The 9-1-1 Response Map and Police Report Maps both present a short-term view of crime: they provide a good sense of what is reported to be going on in a neighborhood, or in the city at any time. They are also good for seeing patterns of types of crimes happening (such as an unusual amount of reported bike thefts in your area).
The monthly crime statistics provide a longer-term view. They give a much better measure of overall safety in an area by providing ongoing, trackable patterns of crime over time.
This is called redacting and it is done to protect the privacy of the people involved in the incident. The redacting is done in accordance with the Public Records Act. (See Revised Code of Washington, RCW 42.56).
The Department redacts the names of all victims, all non-involved parties, all juveniles/minors and all suspects unless they have been booked into jail. This is a major reason why it takes time to prepare crime reports for online posting.
Once a suspect has been booked into jail, their name is no longer private. If they were booked into King County Jail you can view suspect information online at the King County Jail Register.
Most reports will have a police report listed. Most will be linked to a shorted police report that is automatically generated but provides more details than what is on the map.
In the case of Burglaries, Robberies, Aggravated Assaults and Homicides, within 3 business days a manually redacted report will become available that gives the entire narrative of the event. These crimes were chosen because they are some of the most serious, of interest to the public, and there is sufficient staff time to prepare them for viewing.
With the Police Reports Map and 9-1-1 Response Map, SPD is making almost all of our reports available online. The Department attempted to be very thoughtful about what information was released and what was not. These decisions were not made to "hide" types of crimes from the public, instead decisions were made about who to protect.
The only reports that are not being released under this system are when the rights of the victim, age of the victim, possibility of revictimization (either physically or by having the information made public) or overall public safety/security issues take clear precedence over the public right to know.
Information on Rape and other sexual offenses, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Kidnapping, Suicides, locations that are sensitive (like Domestic Violence shelters), Homeland Security issues and tactical information that might compromise the safety of our officers are not being released in this system.
If the event is one of the many types we do show, but the location code was entered into the system incorrectly, the location of the event cannot then be verified. In this scenario, this particular event will not appear on the map at all, rather than providing possibly misleading information.
If you see information about a crime you were involved in and believe the information is inaccurate - please contact the followup detective in your case and talk to them directly about the information.
If you are concerned that a report is online and want it removed entirely, contact SPD Legal Unit at 206-233-5141 to discuss this on a case by case basis. In most cases we will need to adhere to the Public Records Act and leave the report online.