A new crime-mapping center will provide five rural Pennsylvania municipalities with sophisticated mapping reports that will help officers identify trends and respond accordingly. California University of Pennsylvania geography professor Tom Mueller launched the center with a $208,000 grant from the Department of Justice.

The center is staffed by students, who prepare weekly or monthly reports for local police officials using information gathered from reported local crimes. "What it does is give police a visual image of when and where certain crimes are occurring in their communities," says Mueller.

The crime maps are supplemented with other forms of information, such as charts, so that law enforcement officials can easily determine the number of burglaries that occur in a specific geographic area at certain times.

The data has already proven especially useful in fighting gas pump drive-offs, which have increased as the price of gas goes up, says Connellsville City Police Chief Steven Cooper.

Mueller says crime-mapping capabilities are common among larger urban police departments, but that rural jurisdictions lack the money and resources to implement them. Eventually, Mueller plans to train police departments at the crime-mapping center.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (05/08/05); Katarski, Jeffry .