Clearfield targeting hot spots in fighting crime

CLEARFIELD — Technology is helping Clearfield officers better serve residents by pinpointing the “hot spots” of crime.

With money received from federal and state grants, the Clearfield Police Department recently updated its computer-aided dispatch, known as CAD, by adding Spillman Dashboard software, which provides officers with “hot spot” information regarding important crime trends in the city.

The Spillman Dashboard system, which cost $24,000, links directly with the police department's Spillman software, which is used throughout the department's various divisions, such as dispatch, records and reports.

The dashboard system maps the offense codes the department assigns to each type of police incident and allows officers to retrieve specific information, such as what types of crimes or incidents are down or up in a zone and whether particular crimes seem to be occurring at certain times of the day or certain days of the week.

Detective Sgt. Kelly Bennett said the department has been uploading data into the system for the past two months and has just started working with it.

“It's a great tool to track crime. You get to look at hot spots.”

So far, he said, the department has used it to look at burglaries and thefts, while the traffic division has used it to assess the most accident-prone intersections and where citations have been issued.

“We are able to allocate services to those areas and increase patrol to those areas where there is an increase in crime showing on the map,” Bennett said.

Right now, only administration is using the system, but patrol officers soon will have access to it in their vehicles.

Assistant Chief Mike Stenquist said the system requires quite a bit of setup, which is under way now. The officers are being trained on the new software as well.

When it is functional in all patrol vehicles, he said, it will be a great asset.

“If we are having burglaries in the city, we can look at the trends in the last 30 and 60 days. It can give us a focus point to show where to send out patrol officers,” Stenquist said.

“They can target the hot spots in the city.”

Before, he said, it was a tedious process, with officers having to search one incident at a time and draw it out on a spreadsheet. The new technology takes that time-consuming work and makes it accessible to officers with just a click.

“You can look at whatever you choose: accidents, burglaries, anything,” Stenquist said. “It just feeds them information.”

Ultimately, it provides better, more targeted patrols.

“I do think it improves services,” Stenquist said. “It makes the city smaller, in effect. We are not spending time in areas where we are not having as much crime.

“We have better focus where the crimes are occurring. It's a way to find the problem areas, so we are not just wandering aimlessly through the city.”