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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Web Application Maps Where the Crack Busts Are

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 5:59 PM

You may have already read reports on a month-long police sting called Operation Safe School that started on September 15 and targets drug deals in the Tenderloin. According to the 1988 Juvenile Drug Trafficking and Schoolyard Act, if officers can prove that dealers are selling crack cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school while class is in session, offenders may have an extra three to five years tacked on their sentences.

Today, a Colorado-based company called SpacialKey demonstrated how interactive mapping technology, along with information provided by the new San Francisco data-warehouse, DataSF, can be utilized to reveal exactly what neighborhoods and schools police should be targeting to enforce this law. The SpacialKey mapping tool allows users to load and filter data from DataSF to show various distributions of certain crimes on a color-coded map of the city.

According to SpacialKey, of 14,653 crime incidents (i.e. arrests and citations) in San Francisco between June 25, 2009 and September 20, 2009, 166 of those were for crimes that fell under the criteria of the 1988 Act (and thus under the purview of Operation Safe Schools). In addition, the application found 21 schools of 243 in the city that the police may want to target for that specific drug dealing activity. Media reports indicate that, in the past fifteen-plus days of the operation, officers have run five stings and arrested 20 dealers -- total -- with just 13 qualifying for extra prison time.

The SFPD might also want to note that the data reveal most crime incidents that fit the Operation Safe School criteria peak on Wednesdays. SpacialKey did not indicate whether crack crimes are particularly high on hump day because crack sales are notably high on that day of the week -- but from our own experience trying to get through a long Wednesday, we can take an educated guess.

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Anna McCarthy


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