New tech provides useful stats

Published 11:48 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

A 20-year-old white male is most likely to be given a traffic citation in the city of Clanton when comparing all ages, genders and races.

That interesting — even if not surprising — statistic is one of the hundreds now available to Police Chief Brian Stilwell since new technology was implemented in recent months.

As part of the Alabama Criminal Justice System’s Advanced website, Stilwell can compare stats in dozens of different categories.

Whereas compiling the information used to mean physically counting each report, the department now enters the information as part of e-citations filed by officers in the field via computer.

With a few quick keystrokes, the department can map where burglaries and thefts are taking place, see where and at what time of day car wrecks are happening and make other useful comparisons.

The information allows the department to work more efficiently and target specific problems, Stilwell said.

“It helps us to position officers where we need them,” Stilwell said.

For example, when the department mapped its traffic accidents, it noticed many were taking place in downtown, near and around Eighth Street.

When state overtime money was made available around Labor Day, the department was able to do extra traffic details in that area, writing 207 citations.

Being able to work smarter, particularly in this tough economy, is key, Stilwell said.

“We have to do more with what we have now,” he said.

Targeting problem areas also helps save lives and property.

In 2008, the city worked 79 accidents with injury on public roads, with two fatalities. The number of accidents with injury dropped to 57 in 2009 though there were still two fatalities.

The city is on pace to be lower again in 2010, with 37 accidents with injury and zero fatalities so far this year. Those stats don’t include wrecks on private property, like store parking lots.

Aside from traffic, the department also has worked to lower burglaries and thefts in targeted areas. Compared to this time in 2008 (the last year stats were available for), burglaries are down 11 percent and thefts have lowered 23 percent.

Robberies, though far less frequent than the other two property crimes, have seen no change.

“This (technology) will really become a great tools as the years go on,” Stilwell said. “You can target and do some select enforcement.”