How safe is your neighborhood?
The Los Banos Police Department is providing a way for residents to find the answer to that question out.
The departments website started featuring crime maps this month. The maps, which are updated weekly, show Los Banos criminal activity by neighborhood.
Police Chief Gary Brizzee said the maps will prevent people from thinking their section of town is immune to crime. We want people to know that, to some degree, every neighborhood is affected by crime, Brizzee said. We want all people to be aware of their surroundings.
Brizzee said hes wanted to make the mapping system available to the public two years ago, but having an outside firm operate the system was cost prohibitive. Since that time, the Police Department has hired a crime analyst who will be responsible for updating the system.
Brizzee said he believes the mapping system should decrease the number of calls residents make inquiring about their neighborhood.
"A lot of people have called the department wanting us to tell them how safe their neighborhood is, there's just not been a quick way to do that," Brizzee said.
He said outside of someone going through the police log and looking at incidents in individual neighborhoods, his staff wasn't able to provide an effective answer previous to the mapping system.
The maps give the block where crimes have occurred, not the specific addresses. There are separate maps available for Part 1 crimes, which include auto theft, assault, burglary, larceny, homicide, rape and robbery.
The maps show the general location of each reported crime during the month, and the current week's incidents are in color.
Brizzee said the maps are not necessarily official statistics, but are reasonably accurate.
"These maps are indicators of where crime occurs. Although they should not be considered official statistics, they are a very accurate depiction of criminal activity in our community," he said.
Looking out for safety
Viewing the maps involves clicking a few links on the city's website, www.losbanos.org.
Once at the city's website, click on department and navigate to the police department's page where the crime maps link is on the top left of the page.
Brizzee said he hopes the maps encourage people to take precautions.
"Property crimes have seen the most significant increase (in the past six months). Often, these are crimes of opportunity that can be reduced by residents taking a few extra steps to secure their personal property," Brizzee said.