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Government Video Website of the Week: Philadelphia Police Department

The reason for having a website is to reduce crime.

Philadelphia is part of the U.S. government’s “Safe City” program, and the Philadelphia Police Department’s website is linked to the Safe City website. Many of the other cities in that program could learn a few things from the Philadelphia PD’s website, including that the reason for having a website is to reduce crime.

The Philadelphia PD’s website avoids shameless self-promotion, and from the first page of the website, the focus is on service to the community. It does that by providing a wide range of information such as what to do in an emergency; crime statistics—including homicide statistics—and crime maps; and a section in which the viewer can provide a tip, or report police misconduct.

It also has a section in which surveillance videos of crimes are played. The videos start by listing the crime, where it occurred, the date and the report number. Then the surveillance videos—which tend to be grainy—are played. While the images are not sharp, every effort is made to identify the suspects in the videos, including zooming in on the alleged perpetrators and providing detailed descriptions of the suspects. The descriptions—which appear in boxes next to the suspects—not only include physical characteristics, but also their clothing, right down to any brand names that appear on a jacket or hooded sweatshirt. After the video has played, a notice appears asking those who might have information, share it by contacting the department’s Central Detectives Division.