Park safety secrets: CyberWatch - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Park safety secrets: CyberWatch

Park safety secrets: CyberWatch

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

An online tool the cops use to track crime trends is now a citizen's go-to for gauging the safety of neighborhoods and parks.

CyberWatch, a free web initiative provided by the Memphis Police Department, enables users to chart crimes committed in 12 Shelby and Tipton County municipalities. Registered members can customize CyberWatch's crime-mapping feature by distance and by crime type. The database will also send users automatic e-mail alerts about crime incidences in their communities.

CyberWatch is a component of a county-wide crime-fighting strategy the cops call data smart policing. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office, for example, uses data smart policing to chart crimes that happen in the last five days within a quarter-mile of a park. "Whether it be burglaries, whether it be motor vehicle thefts, whatever crime is in that area, it's charted out, and that gives you the idea of where to allocate your resources," said Chief Inspector C.D. Booker of the Shelby County Sheriff's Patrol Field Bureau.

The bureau used data smart policing and CyberWatch to determine the current crime flash point is Northaven in North Shelby County. Booker said the prevalence of vacant homes within a quarter-mile of Northaven's Goodman Park has contributed to an up-tick of home break-in's and auto burglaries. 

So Booker beefed up foot patrols and increased marked patrol car presence around the park for better security. 

"Very safe," said Rene Rockiemore, coaching a youth baseball team on Goodman Park's ball field. "Because there's more of you riding around in cars now, and they got foot patrol. That's what I like." 

Shelby Farms Park Operations Manager Larry Pickens and his park rangers access CyberWatch from laptops, desktop computers, smart phones and tablets. When it alerted him to a theft of property warrant within a quarter-mile of Shelby Farms' dog park, Pickens immediately allocated personnel and video equipment to run surveillance of the park's patrons and parking lot.

"They'll pick up tag numbers, get full descriptions of individuals," Pickens said. "If CyberWatch reveals a shoplifting charge at the WalMart (on Trinity Road in Cordova), we have a good idea that our dog park might be next. So we put the people and things in place to discourage any potential car break-ins or some other crime."

Register for free on CyberWatch in its embedded link above or here.

Wednesday on WMC Action News 5 at 10, Andy Wise gets you on a first-name basis with the gadgets, roving cameras and integrated systems that can watch whatever's going on at any Shelby County park or attraction. Andy will post that story on Facebook, Twitter and WMCActionNews5.com after it airs.

DIY PARK SAFETY:

* STOW IT, DON'T SHOW IT. Most auto burglaries at area parks occur because people leave valuables right on their seats.

* KEEP HEADPHONE MUSIC LOW OR USE JUST ONE EARBUD to be better aware of what's around you, what investigators describe as "situation awareness."

* USE REFLECTIVE SURFACES like your car's windows to watch your back.

* FOLLOW PARK SUN-UP/SUN-DOWN RULES. Breaking park rules to jog or bike when it's dark is dumb. Half the battle of personal protection is not being someplace -- like in the dark -- that increases the probability of an attack.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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