On a Saturday morning in January, residents of an apartment complex near the University of Arizona woke up to find a large police presence at the typically quiet location, but questions about the incident went unanswered for much of the day.
Later that night, police sent word to apartment managers that officers had been searching for a sexual assault suspect in the complex, but until the information was released, residents were left to wonder about what had gone on.
While police aren’t always able to immediately provide information about a crime in progress, local law enforcement agencies offer multiple resources to keep people informed about what’s happening in their neighborhoods.
Most departments have websites and social media accounts that the public can access. Some agencies regularly post basic information about serious incidents, such as major traffic crashes, police activity and alerts for missing people, on their social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook.
The public can usually find information on websites about, for example, how to obtain reports, get crime statistics, search for department phone numbers and look up jail inmates.
Interactive crime map
The easiest way to find out what is happening in a specific area of the city is to use the Crime Reports map — www.crimereports.com, said Sgt. Christopher Hawkins, a Tucson Police Department spokesman. (See box for use website links)
The map is updated by law enforcement agencies every night.
People can search by address to find crimes near a specific location, including information on what type of crime, the approximate location, the date reported, the time reported and the case number. The interactive map also allows users to explore the map and look at recent crimes in certain areas.
This map contains information on incidents from the past six months up to the previous day.
The crime map is one of the best resources residents can use to stay informed, since it allows the public to get information on a crime the day after it happened and lists incidents to the nearest 100 block, said Deputy Ryan Inglett, a Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesman.
Tucson Police Department
Hawkins said if, after looking at the crime map, residents have further concerns, they can get the case number from the map and file a public records request with TPD to get the full police report on the incident.
The website also offers resources for traffic incidents and auto thefts, as well as crime statistics.
Citizens can also follow Tucson police on Twitter and Facebook to get updates from the agency. Though Hawkins said both social media accounts are not for emergency incidents, he recommended following the official police Twitter account, saying Twitter is used to give updates on more urgent incidents throughout the city.
For example, officials will post on Twitter that a major intersection is closed because of a crash and how long the closure is expected to be in place. Pictures of wanted crime suspects are also often posted on the department’s social media sites.
Tucson police also recommend that residents register to use the Nextdoor.com website and mobile app if they have concerns about incidents in their neighborhood.
Nextdoor allows residents to find their neighborhood and share information between neighbors and is a good source for residents to find out what is going on in their neighborhood, especially in cases that have not been reported to law enforcement, Hawkins said.
TPD officers are also on the website and app and monitor incidents in neighborhoods around the city.
“The people who have the best information are the people who live there,” Hawkins said.
TPD offers a link to the city of Tucson website to search for other data, including logs for calls for service from the agency.
Each month, TPD offers “Coffee with a Cop” events at different divisions in the city. At these events, the public is invited to come and talk with police officers who work in the neighborhoods and take the opportunity to get to know the officers and discuss issues they see that might have not have been reported, Hawkins said.
Pima County Sheriff’s Department
Through the Sheriff’s Department website, citizens can also request reports if they would like the full report of an incident. The website also lists annual crime statistics.
Following the department on Twitter and Facebook can be a source of information if people are interested in updates on crime around the city, but not every crime is updated on social media, Inglett said.
The department recommends people get to know their neighbors either through the Nextdoor app or by being friendly, Inglett said, adding that participating in a homeowners association — if the neighborhood has one — is another good way to stay informed.
If people see law enforcement at the scene of a crime, they should not approach the scene for their safety, he said.
The department’s website also has a link for looking up inmates by name in the Pima County jail
Oro Valley and Marana police departments also operate social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook, posting information about community events, traffic incidents and arrests.
To check for sex offenders in the area, visit the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s sex offender registry at tucne.ws/t1w
For traffic incidents on state highways, follow the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Public Safety on Twitter.
To be prepared in a medical emergency, people can download the mobile app Pulse Point, which links CPR and defibrillator-trained members of the public with emergencies near them. The app provides alerts in case of emergency, and points responders in the direction of the nearest Automated External Defibrillator. The app is designed to get responders to those in need as soon as possible.
Pulse Point’s website is www.pulsepoint.org
Leah Gilchrist is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star.