Crime statistics Web sites vary in accuracy

By Scott Goldstein / The Dallas Morning News

A growing number of Web sites are crunching local crime data to offer concerned residents a constant flow of e-mail alerts, interactive maps, graphs and charts.

But the information these services rely on and how it's presented can sometimes be unreliable โ€“ a fact some site administrators readily acknowledge.

For Dallas police, the Web sites serve as an added tool for a department that already publishes basic incident reports online. Several of the sites take that data from the Dallas Police Department and other agencies and spit it back out in a variety of formats.

While the services vary in how they present raw numbers โ€“ whether with color-coded dots on a map or less-flashy listings of offenses by ZIP code โ€“ their fundamental purpose is essentially the same. "What these other sites have done, of course, is they have made it more searchable and added more end user value to it, and we think that's very positive," said Dallas police Deputy Chief Brian Harvey.

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By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Safe streets