The Covington Police Department is going one step beyond the typical holiday warnings to shoppers this year. With their interactive crime map and several seminars being given, they are taking a proactive approach to stomp out crime this holiday season and make citizens a little more aware of what's happening in the city.
"Every year, come the holidays, we all know what's going to happen," said Detective Daniel Seals. "And we can tell people what we've seen but now, with the new criminal intelligence unit, we can take the information we already have and turn it into actionable intelligence."
And that information that officers and detectives at the police department have, is available to the public by visiting www.covingtonpolice.com and clicking on the 'crime info' tab to the right of the screen. The first thing that pops up is a map of the city with tabs at the top to narrow down a search by number of days, sex offenders and crimes. After entering an address, things can be narrowed down even further by specific types of crimes. Icons will pop up on the map once you've entered your information. Click on those and you can see details of the crimes and of the sex offenders.
"It's a different way to see the information," said Seals. "And it's another way for citizens to protect themselves."
For instance, if a citizen is planning a trip to a store in the city, simply type in the address of the place you are headed and you can see if there is an increase of crimes in that area or any crime at all. Citizens can also see what is happening in their neighborhood as well, and where any sex offenders reside. There is also a tab to report a crime to the police department and Seals stressed that not only does the department want citizens to report crimes, but also to call if they see behavior they think is suspicious.
"We welcome the call before the crime," he said.
And although holiday shoppers can look for crimes before they shop, the standards still apply. Authorities urge shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, not to leave packages and valuables where they can be seen inside a vehicle and for ladies to hold on to their purses and keep them closed so that a wallet can't be easily lifted out.
"If you're better informed and you make yourself a harder target thieves will go elsewhere," said Seals. "Criminals aren't in the business of risk without reward."
Seals is also hosting several seminars at The Center on Washington Street. They will be held at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., Monday and on Dec. 6. Contact the Newton County Chamber of Commerce at (770) 786-7510 for more information.