Sonoma County Sheriff's Office unveils crime mapping tool

  • Matthew Harris, a crime analyst with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, displays a GIS map using software called RAIDSonline that displays crimes that have been committed in Sonoma County. The display was part of GIS Day at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

Zoom in closer to where the Russian River bends around Fitch Mountain on a new online crime map and bubbles dot the shore: Simple assault, burglary, parole violation, larceny.

Underneath the sleek digital map is a trove of data that in the past was only available via a phone call or by requesting law enforcement records.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office this month joined the Santa Rosa Police Department in uploading daily crime reports onto the map, called RAIDS Online.

Employing geographic information system technology, or GIS, data such as the time and type of a crime is linked to the place where it occurred, creating a color-coded visual archive of crime in the county.

The interactive map was on display last week at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa, part of an event showcasing the incredible volume of geospatial data held by county agencies.

"Del Rio Woods, that's where we go rafting," said Geri Biehl of Healdsburg, squinting at incidents plotted on the river bend.

"Fight at the beach, I'm guessing," said Sheriff's Office crime analyst Matthew Harris. "It opens your eyes."

The public can find the map on the Police Department and Sheriff's Office websites or through an iPhone application.

The Police Department started uploading crime data to RAIDS nearly two years ago, and the records go back to 2009. The Sheriff's Office records go back to 2008, as well as some older reports from unsolved crimes.

Some kinks in system

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