The chances are that if one has seen enough movies, some kinds especially, one has seen operations maps. They’re views of areas sometimes showing hills, sometimes showing streets and they’re often hung on walls so many can see. They may be marked with arrows (military) or pins or maybe other things. The police have been known to use them to track criminal activity to narrow down a search area if there is a series of unsolved crimes. The idea is that a criminal may largely “work” in one general area.
There’s a lot of crime out there that doesn’t get into publications in a town of any size simply because there is too much of it. It’s a big thing for someone if he or she – say – owns a car and the tires are slashed; but in the big picture, where banks are robbed or people are murdered, criminal damaging isn’t particularly important. Such activity, however, does create fear. People know there are “things going on,” they just don’t know where or how much or more to the point, what they are in danger of losing.
Computers have made possible a fabulous crime fighting tool that average people could not have expected to have just a few years ago. Today, if those “slashed tires” are reported to the police, the cop files a report on his or her computer and the office “downtown” will put the event on a crime map that anyone with a computer can pull out and study. Robbery, burglary, arson – they’re all there, all the things that never make the smallest of headlines but do make victims. While not perfect, the maps are good.
An informed citizenry makes life better.