PHOENIX — Following the sexual assault outside Amigo Animal clinic last month, the community has rallied around the victim and has hit the streets to find the man accused of carrying out the vicious crime.
“Data is only as good as how you interpret it and what you're going to use it for,” said Phoenix Police Sergeant Vince Lewis.
Soon after the assault near Cave Creek and Greenway roads; social media exploded with tips, concerns, and even amateur detectives eyeballing local crime mapping.
Posts soon went up identifying from those maps four other sexual assaults in the area. That inevitably lead to some believing they were committed by the same rogue suspect.
“We look for things like trends; we look for similar situations. Is there any type of connection between these similar crimes, we didn’t find that in this location,” said Lewis. “With these other incidents, which you can’t tell just by reading the crime map, we had already identified other suspects or the suspect was known to us already through the investigation of that case.”
Phoenix police soon spotted the next door post and quelled concerns with a post of their own. They admit the crime maps can be confusing, even overwhelming for those using it for the first time.
“You have to know what you are searching for and understand it’s limitations, we want to be transparent that’s why this was created, but you have to know how to use it,” said Lewis. “When you click on the icon, it gives you a little bit of information; it gives you the full police report number and date of when it happened.”
That report number is the key. A request to police can provide the full scope of that investigation as it is public record. Shedding light on details that could prove important when linking cases together or in this case showing the differences.
In the end, police say an active community is a safer one, and with these tips, they’ll look to help this one do it better.