One of the biggest challenges in crime reporting is the amount of legwork required. Reporters sprint between arraignments, court appearances and magistrate offices, juggling paperwork and perp walks.
Hopefully, Philly Rap Sheet will make their jobs a little easier.
Using public court data, this tracker dynamically logs every arrest that comes through Philadelphia’s municipal courts, updating on the half hour. You can filter by date arrested, the bail amount, the judge or the arresting officer. Email alerts will be added soon.
The site is also responsively designed, with special attention paid to mobile readability.
Technical notes: The crime data is collected by a PHP script, which queries the docket system, pulls the newest report PDFs, converts them into text files with pdftotext, parses for relevant information and saves it to a mySQL database.
It’s been a fun and challenging project, and I can say for certain that I know more about the formatting of Philadelphia docket sheets than anyone should. I hope it’s useful.