Austin
10:07 am
Wed December 22, 2010

How To Find Out What Those Cops Are Doing On Your Block

Ever see flashing red and blue lights of a police cruiser on your block and wonder what they are doing over there? Here's how to find out.

The Austin Police Departments' Public Information office is open during normal business hours. You can start by calling them directly at 512-974-5017.

If they are unable to help you, or it's after hours, try contacting the APD division that covers your neighborhood.  You can find that list here.

Some websites like RadioReference allow you to stream Travis County police scanners online. For a fee, the Incident Page Network will send you alerts to your email or cell phone when police, fire, or emergency medical services workers are dispatched to a location. Their packages start at about $9/year.

But why pay when the Austin Fire Department posts incidents to this website, which is updated every three minutes, and the Austin Police Department posts crime reports on this map. Krimelabb.com is a mirror of APD's crime site, also popular among neighborhood groups.

Sites like SpotCrime and CrimeReports also provide mapped crime data. Like the APD map, it's not live incident data, but rather reports filed by officers, so there's a delay of at least 24 hours. But subscribing to either can help you track crime trends in your neighborhood. SpotCrime even has an iPhone app.

Citizen Observer can be a very useful sight that allows police and neighborhood associations to send you alerts and information about crime in your area. You have to register for a free account to use it.

Lastly, you can always call 311 to find out more information about what the local government is doing in your back yard.

Do you see something missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below so we can add it!