It's not a sort of Bat-signal that the Police see blinking on their patrol car GPS, so that they know where they are needed, it's more of a Public Relations tool that will make the people living in certain neighborhoods know all about what has happened there, regarding safety and the way the police dealt with the problems.
It's often difficult to find crime information, because police blotters in local newspapers aren't all that popular and the evening news only highlight a few of the most interesting cases that have come up and these means of information don't bring historical data or understand trends. "By providing the data in a rich, visual interface, plus letting citizens get alerts if something new happens in their neighborhood -- CrimeReports.com makes information accessible to citizens in a much more useful way", Dan Israel of Google Enterprise, Government Products, said on the official Google Enterprise blog.
Imagine sitting at home and being able to see at all times what is going down, and even be highlighted via RSS when something is happening. These technologies make it a whole lot easier for the government to share information directly with the citizens they serve, no middle-man or company involved to alter the data or rearrange it, so that it may suit it better.
"CrimeReports.com is a website that makes crime data from local law enforcement agencies available on the internet using Google Maps. CrimeReports.com is a partnership between a company called Public Engines and local police departments across the country -- from San Jose, CA to Washington, DC. These police departments wanted to make information about neighborhood safety directly available to the public, but did not have the resources to set this up themselves", Dan Israel specified. What Public Engines did was to build a service that uses the Google Maps API and now they are making it available at a low cost to any interested police department.
The website of the company only lists U.S. areas covered by the program, but who knows, perhaps in the future it will be available all over the world.
Google Crime Map
Police happy to welcome the tool