CRIME TRACKER: Real-time crime data in Richland

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Sid Hodge has lived in his Richland neighborhood for eight years.

"It's a nice neighborhood," Sid says.

As the homeowner's association president, he uses Richland's new crime-tracking website to keep his neighbors informed of trouble nearby. The program is called "Richland Shield." It sends Sid alerts via email right when a crime is reported in his neighborhood or a neighborhood nearby.

He continues, "You're getting real-time one button and you send an email to all the homeowners."

Sid thinks it's important to stay up on the crime trends, but he also goes online to help prevent crime as well.

"We find out how the car was stolen. Did they break the windows? Was it left running? So that gives us some knowledge on what not to do," Sid explains.

Richland Shield is now running at full-speed and neighborhoods are signing up quickly. Police say the added communication makes everyone in the city safer.

"We can contact more people, more effectively and efficiently with fewer staff assets," Cpt. Mike Cobb tells KEPR.

Sid and his neighbors can see all of Richland's crime data, with photos, car information and more, but not everyone has access to the site. For everyday neighbors, you can sign up online, but to get full access, you have to be approved by a neighborhood watch leader or HOA president.

Cobb says, "That's to keep random criminals from accessing it."

And keep criminals from victimizing you.

"It's unbelievable," Sid says.

Police say the business part of the website has also been very successful. It posts photos of shoplifters so other business owners can be on the lookout.