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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crime map plots a helpful picture

Telegraph Editorial

By design, there are many times when newspapers and police departments are going to knock heads over the release of crime-related information; newspapers want to share it with readers as quickly as possible, while law enforcement wants to consider how doing so might impact its investigation.

The creation of a Nashua crime map was not one of those times - and, for that, we are grateful.

Two weeks ago, appropriately enough during Sunshine Week, The Telegraph announced it was partnering with the Nashua Police Department to launch an interactive crime map, which is now part of our new Police, Crime and Public Safety section of our website (

The map, which is also accessible from the department's website (, was made possible by contracting with The Omega Group, a San Diego firm that develops crime-mapping tools for law enforcement agencies across the country. The Telegraph hired the company to develop and maintain the crime map in cooperation with Nashua police.


To provide Nashua residents with up-to-date reports about criminal activity in their neighborhoods, which in turn can open communication channels between residents and police to help combat crime.

"I think it's important that people know what's going on in their community and their neighborhood," said Nashua Police Chief John Seusing, who was sworn in three months ago after 29 years with the department. "We're hoping to see people have an even more watchful eye and report stuff to us."

Basically, the company's product aggregates police incident reports and plots them on a city map. The program uses self-explanatory icons - i.e., masks for robberies, cars for motor vehicle thefts or break-ins - to identify 15 types of illegal activity. Once selected, each icon displays a case number, a date and time, a location to the nearest 100 block on the particular street and a description of the offense.

Nashua is the third community in the state - Manchester and Rochester are the others - to enter into an agreement with the company and the eighth in New England.

Overall, more than 270 law enforcement agencies use, according to the company, and The Telegraph is believed to be the only newspaper to serve as a partner in one of them.

The newspaper first approached the department about collaborating on a crime map last year, in part because public safety stories are among the most well-read on our website. That told us there is strong interest in the community for this type of information, and we felt a map plotting specific crimes would be a well-received public service.

For Nashua police, the creation of such a map is in keeping with a national trend among police departments to become more transparent and to work more closely with their communities to prevent and solve crimes. Greater Nashua police departments have been doing that for some time, but the detailed Nashua crime map raises the sharing of such data to a new level.

We want to publicly thank Seusing and the department for working with us on this worthwhile project, and we look forward to finding other opportunities to provide our readers with information that can help to keep them safe.