Today is the soft-release launch of PhillyBlotter, the crime report and research-analysis tool that’s stuffed into a smartphone app.
What is it? Well, let’s take a look.
Those of you who grew up in Philadelphia may have no idea what a police blotter even is since one has never really been published before in the city except for small fits and starts in neighborhood newspapers. A police blotter is a log of police activity including crimes and arrests made. Small town newspapers have published police blotters as long as there has been newsprint—it’s great column filler and it attracts readers who want to know what is going on with crime and the police department.
Philadelphia (or any big city) is far too large and dense to have a comprehensive police blotter published (just look at that map above for the past 10 days). There’s not enough trees to kill to publish a running listing of what the police are doing. That’s where PhillyBlotter comes in.
PhillyBlotter is an app that combines basic crime reports from the Philadelphia Police Department* with arrest information from the Philadelinquency CourtWatch system that’s been around for a year. When both are combined together you can get a very powerful look into what’s actually going on with police activity in any part of the city.
Police blotters also help keep eyes on police activity so community members can stay engaged and up-to-date. If your community has a town watch, this is right up your alley. For instance, if a rash of burglaries is happening in your neighborhood, you’ll be able to see it right away. It might prompt you to ask more detailed and pointed questions at the next police representative that comes to your community group meetings. Is there a pattern to these burglaries? Is it just the same people hitting a bunch of different properties or is it different people each time? What can we do to deter it? You get the picture.
The app is also neighborhood-aware. That’s because it’s been coded by a Philadelphian and over 130 Philadelphians have been beta-testing it since September. PhillyBlotter has been programmed to know over 105 Philadelphia neighborhoods and where they are. You can select a neighborhood police blotter specific to your own neighborhood or you can mix and match up to three neighborhoods and combine all the crime data together on one screen. Don’t know which neighborhood you live in? PhillyBlotter can tell you if you set your primary location in the app.
Sometimes though on a police blotter entry you’ll see a little police icon in the listing, like this:
That means there is an arrest record in the court system that’s tagged to that crime report. Both will display if you hit it.
You can go straight to the Commonwealth court system to view the public docket records. As always, returning-citizens needing help to suppress and expunge their arrest records can use the Courtwatch Arrest Termination Form to sequester their arrest record (provided it is 45-days past the arrest date). Suppressing an arrest record on Courtwatch also makes it invisible in PhillyBlotter.
Crime searching is also something you can do on your phone, which is hard to do on most crime websites and is nearly non-existent in mobile apps. You’re not stuck looking only at the most-recent data either, you can research crime going back to 2006 and arrests going back 5 years.
For instance you can search Bridesburg for all burglaries that happened there over the past summer. You can also search by police district and PSA if you don’t want to search by neighborhood and whether or not the case has charges associated with it. If you have a specific case number from the police you can enter the District Control Number directly and view that case immediately. It’s easy.
The ‘One Mile’ Blotter
One of the coolest blotters is one centered just around you. First, set your Primary Location in the app settings and then create a yellow circle that signifies the area you care about most. The yellow area is where you will get push notifications for violent and violative crimes such as homicide, rape, burglary, robbery and aggravated assault.
Now you get a police blotter that shows the crimes ordered by the distance from the location you have set, all the way up to one mile away.
Requirements for Android:
- Device must have the Google Play Store and Google Maps installed (Amazon-based phones and tablets that only have the Amazon store are not eligible)
- Android OS 4.4.x, 5.x, 6.x or 7.x (and higher)
- High Accuracy Location services enabled on the device in order to use Crime Map, One Mile Blotter and push notifications
- 512MB RAM (minimum), 1GB RAM (recommended)
- 120MB free space of storage
Requirements for iOS:
- iOS version 9.3 and higher
- Location Services
*** While PhillyBlotter displays records sourced from PPD and from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania it is not associated or affiliated with the City of Philadelphia nor the Philadelphia Police Department. PhillyBlotter was written and maintained-by Christopher Sawyer, owner of Philadelinquency.Tags: Crime | Philadelphia Police | PhillyBlotter | police