Louisville's Reality Show
A Web site asks citizens to help cops solve crimes.
Early last year, two detectives in Louisville's robbery squad sat down and built a working prototype of what would become the Armed Suspect Apprehension Program, a Web site that allows the public to scroll through surveillance video of recent robberies. It is now a tool that the Louisville Metro Police Department uses as a means of getting more criminals off the street.
If citizens scrolling through the Web site "recognize a suspect or if some mannerism of a suspect is familiar, they can help us identify them," says Lieutenant James Mueller, commander of the robbery squad.
"The more information we can get, the better."
The Web site, www.lmpdasap.com, comes in the wake of a record number of robberies in the city. There were nearly 400 in 2005--a 17-year high.
The surveillance tool became available to the public in December, and in its first month received 10,000 hits, three tips and several inquiries about replicating the program. The site is easy to navigate: It features surveillance video, still images and suspect mug shots as well as details on just about every robbery that took place in Louisville. One of its features is a case of the month, and there are links to information on robbery prevention. The site also has a law enforcement-only section, which contains case details not released to the public.
The site includes a number of ways for the public to offer information to the police department, including e-mailing directly to the lead investigator or simply phoning it in. The site is updated several times a week.