Shorewood — Shorewood police have partnered with a police records website that Police Chief Peter Nimmer believes will revolutionize crime awareness in the village.
Nimmer on Jan. 17 unveiled the Shorewood Police Department's partnership with CrimeReports.com, which will document most non-sensitive police log items on an interactive map. The website — which does not report names and only shows the time, date and category of crime — also shows trends, such as specific types of crimes at specific time periods. The website is updated every day at 1 a.m. from the Bayside Communications Center.
The biggest selling point for the police department to partner with CrimeReports.com is the ability for residents to register their surveillance cameras and smart doorbell systems through the website. When a crime occurs in a neighborhood, Shorewood police would be able to see if there are any registered surveillance cameras nearby. If there are nearby cameras, the police department would contact you and ask to see the video. The police department does not have access to the video, Nimmer said.
The Greenfield Police Department was the first in the area to start using the website, and Shorewood is the second. Nimmer said he has shared the website with other North Shore police departments, and he predicts they will start using the service soon. The police department paid only $400 to report their crime through this website.
"You’re going to see this all over real soon," Nimmer said. "This is the wave of the future."
The use of CrimeReports.com is the next big step in Shorewood's efforts to report crime news to the public. Shorewood police have been using Nixle.com to push email and text alerts to residents for years, mostly for burglaries, robberies, assaults or a trend of activity. Nimmer said he believes that the police department's increased communication through Nixle, as well as Facebook, has made Shorewood residents more aware of crime, which has led to the utilization of more crime prevention tactics.
The increased police communication and alertness in the community has caused a perception for some in Shorewood that crime is on the rise, particularly with a string of seven forced-entry burglaries in the past month. Police said they have identified suspects and are awaiting evidence tests on those burglaries. But even counting the recent crime wave, last year's crime rates were still among the lowest in the past decade.
In 2016, Shorewood had the second-fewest burglaries, the lowest number of assaults, the second fewest thefts and tied for the third-lowest robberies. On the other hand, the 26 car thefts reported last year — a problem across the metro-Milwaukee area — is the highest in the last decade.
Actually, Shorewood's crime rates are dramatically down when compared to the past 40 years, according to the FBI uniform crime reports dug up by Shorewood Police Lt. Tom Liebenthal. In a presentation to the Shorewood Village Board on Jan. 17, Liebenthal showed a graph showing burglaries hovering above the 100 mark throughout all of the 1980s, peaking at 174 burglaries in 1981. The number of robberies hovered in the mid 20s in the mid-1980s and peaked at 36 in 1986.
Nimmer said he believes one crime is too many, and that he would never trivialize or minimalize any type of crime in the village. He said he and Liebenthal shared the historical crime statistics with the board to provide context — and to show that as crime news becomes more easily and quickly distributed, crime rates go down. Nimmer hopes the added transparency and video registration capability of CrimeReports will lead to even lower crime numbers in the future.