“It’s much more efficient,” Rosema said. “When you have detectives out working a scene, you don’t need a separate team back in the office putting together the data.”
That data is now available at the push of a computer button. Much of that data is also available to the public.
“I think it’s a pretty powerful tool for neighborhood watches,” said programmer Justin Munsters, an employee of the county’s Geographical Information Systems Department, and the main force behind the construction of the website.
The incident mapping website has actually been online for about a year, but the number of incidents it covers has been expanded, said Undersheriff Greg Steigenga. Although it currently only shows calls handled by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, Steigenga said several other municipal departments may soon have their information included.
The incident mapping website has a public side and a law enforcement side, according to Scott Brovont, records director for the Sheriff’s Department.
The public can look up incidents by date range; by township or city; and by types of incidents such as crimes against person, health-safety, property, service and traffic crashes.
While the mapping works on PCs, there may be some trouble using it on Apple computers, Munsters said. He is working on resolving that issue.
The incident mapping can be found by going to the Ottawa County website at www.miottawa.org, navigate to the “Courts and Law Enforcement” bar and click on the “Sheriff’s Department” tab. On the lower left-hand side of the screen, you will find a listing of online services, under which you will find “Incident Mapping.”
As this continues to be a work in progress, Munsters said he welcomes any comments and suggestions. Send them to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.