Crime-tracking goes virtual in Lawrenceville

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Keeping tabs on crime in the city of Lawrenceville just got easier.

Lawrenceville police became the first municipal department in Gwinnett -- and the 15th in Georgia -- to participate in the Web-based CrimeReports.com system this week.

The service, which is free and doesn't require a subscription, is touted by city leaders as a necessary crime-fighting tool.

"It's important to citizens to know what's happening in their area," said Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps. "This provides a step in the right direction."

The service, accessible now at www.crimereports.com, allows users to pinpoint certain crimes or see general overviews of crime patterns in their area. Users can also sign up for e-mail crime alerts.

Like the Offender Watch program offered by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department, the site can locate registered sex offenders in certain areas.

All data is collected from the Lawrenceville Police Department and will be updated frequently, officials said.

"It gives citizens a flexible, searchable tool to be aware of what's going on around them," said Lawrenceville police Chief Randy Johnson. "In today's age of information and technology, we welcomed the opportunity."

Access to the service costs the department $99 per month, funded through appropriations in the 2009-10 budget, said Capt. Jeff Smith.

The service joins another Web site unveiled recently by Gwinnett police -- www.crimemapping.com -- that allows residents to track reported criminal activity in unincorporated Gwinnett.

That data tracks everything from auto accidents to homicides. A small blue icon in the shape of a ski mask, for instance, represents an armed robbery.

Gwinnett joined DeKalb County and a police department in Brunswick as the third Georgia agency to incorporate the system. Sixty-three agencies nationwide use it.

A link to the Crime Reports system is available on Lawrenceville police's newly revised Web site, www.lawrencevillepd.com.