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University of Pennsylvania mapping out crime for police departments

California University of Pennsylvania is helping area police forces map out crime. The U.S. Department of Justice recently awarded a $208,000 grant to the school to create a Crime Mapping Center. The facility is being established in Room 281 of the Eberly Science and Technology Center. The Crime Mapping Center will use GIS technology, and the students will complete weekly or monthly crime-mapping reports for rural police departments. The center will be staffed by student volunteers and run by the earth science planning club.

While the Crime Mapping Center is new, students have worked the past couple of years with both the Uniontown and Brownsville police departments. This semester, the Southwestern Police Department, a regional force, which covers Belle Vernon and Newell, was added to the mix. Through an agreement with the departments, students can download call-for-service data. The reports show a spatial pattern of crimes, and the maps portray overall and specific crimes like assault or criminal mischief. So the police have an idea where similar crimes are happening. The completed maps and reports can help the police departments monitor crimes.