FAQ


How did krimelabb.com originate?

Late in 2006, I found the Austin Police Department's crime incident form. This page limits the user to a six day range. I wanted to be able to view my zip for an entire month. So I started collecting data from the APD site. Soon I had a page for viewing crime in my zip for a month at a time. Then I decided it would not be too difficult to do this citywide (for APD data). Over time a lot of features have been added.

Does krimelabb charge fees or require a password?

All the basic lookups are free and do not require a password. You should be able to lookup an immense amount of information from these lookups. Contact me on how to get free training.

Are there plans to expand krimelabb?

Maybe. krimelabb is focused on the Austin area. So if we could gather data from some of the neighboring communities (e.g. Round Rock, Pflugerville, Travis County, Williamson County, etc.). it would be the next logical step. If you are interested in helping us get data from one of these jurisdictions or if you are adept at writing Freedom of Information/Open Records requests, please contact me.

How do people use krimelabb?

The highest and best use of krimelabb is for community policing. In Austin, there are roughly 1-2 police officers for every 1000 citizens. So imagine how powerful it would be if even a modest number of citizens are monitoring suspicious activity as well as crime reports. The information can be a very powerful tool for creating a virtual fortress in the community where it is more difficult for a criminal to come and go without being noticed. The more people in the neighborhood that are willing to call 911 when it is warranted the safer the neighborhood will become.

Community policing is a partnership between the citizens and law enforcement. It is very unlikely a patrol car will happen upon a crime in progress by chance so it is important that the citizens are providing valuable intel that will help "connect the dots."

There is a new page called Alerts--how is this page used?

The Alerts page is for citizens to share information about suspicious activity. For example, if you see a car going down your street and it arouses your suspicious, you can submit an alert with information about the car, the people in the car, date, time of day and location (if you think a crime is taking place...CALL 911). The alert will be shared with the community in a matter of minutes. But it does not end there. If someone monitoring the alerts sees the same car, that person can add more information. In fact, in one sequence of alerts it may be possible to determine if the people in the car are up to no good or if they are harmless. Plus the information will be archived.

This is truly a lab project. There are no guarantees it will be adopted by the community but if it does get used it holds a lot of promise. This project will need to evolve to meet the needs of the users. Plus it may need a moderator to handle users that use the page improperly.

Why doesn't a crime in my neighborhood appear in krimelabb?

A high percentage of crimes where an Austin Police Department (APD) officer is involved will show up in krimelabb. But occasionally a crime will not appear in krimelabb. Here are some reasons they don't:

  • The crime was not reported by the victim(s) or witness(es)
  • The crime was called in but when APD arrived there was nothing to report
  • The crime was called in but it was low on the triage list and either an officer was dispatched later in the day or not at all
  • The crime is handled by another law enforcement organization than APD
  • APD has not made the crime details public maybe because it is part of a pending investigation
  • The crime report is less than two days old--APD imposes a two day wait before the crime summary is available on their site. In some cases, it may take longer than two days for a crime to show up.

How do I get more information about a specific crime?

Here are some documents you can access:

How can I learn more about using krimelabb?

There are several ways:

  • get a free krimelabb presentation for your neighborhood association, business or some other organization.
  • email me your questions and comments
  • read the blog posts

Is there information about crimes against businesses or other organizations on krimelabb?

Yes, the APD crime reports can apply to businesses as well as residents. There are currently a few ways to lookup crime happening at or near a given business. One concern is having a bar near your neighborhood. You can use krimelabb to monitor crime activity at or near the bar. Often the offenders in a neighborhood pose a threat to businesses as well as the residents.

Sometimes it is a challenge for a neighborhood association to partner with local businesses in order to have a consistent approach to crime and safety. This is a fertile area for improvement.

Do many people do research projects using krimelabb data?

Yes. The data that krimelabb gets from Austin Police Department is surprisingly robust. Currently, krimelabb has well over a million crime and arrest records and there are many applications of the data. Also, there should be other data sources in the near future.

There has been an extensive project with residents in Downtown Austin. This project combined data from APD as well as data from the Travis County Criminal Justice center.

Can I use krimelabb data for a school project?

Yes. I have had several people contact me about this. Let me know about your project and I will see if I can help. A man contacted me that he got a 95 on his paper (that referenced krimelabb)--he is headed to the West Coast to attend a police academy there.

Do realtors use krimelabb?

I think I have been contacted more by realtors than by people of any other profession. But realtors have to be careful about steering their clients to or away from neighborhoods. They must conform to RESPA requirements as it applies to a practice called "redlining". If you are a realtor, ask about the krimelabb Crime Report by Address which can help a client understand the nature of the crime threat near a given home, apartment or business.