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Friday, December 7

Public safety transparency

There has been a lot of criticism in the last few months about transparency in the Public Safety Department or the perceived lack thereof, but I will say this: things are getting better.

Just in the time that I have been working at the newspaper and covering events in the city (about two years now) I've noticed a difference in how readily information comes out of the Police Department.

They have improved their website, routinely put up mug shots (something they didn't often provide when I got here) and have gone to the Nixle service which will send text or e-mail alerts about incidents/activities/arrests that happen with the PD.

For those who are interested, you can sign up to receive those alerts at their website here.

Recent events show it isn't a perfect system, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

The editors and I also met with Chief Chris Cole, Lt. John Catone who handles their public information, Capt. Mike Chowske who oversees the patrol unit and deals with press inquiries on administrative issues, Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen and Deputy Commissioner Eileen Finneran yesterday in City Hall to discuss communication issues.

There were disagreements over a few things but overall it was a productive meeting.

Catone is in training for his duties as public information officer at the end of which he will be certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (because we all know how good the federal government is about disseminating information).

In addition, if you've noticed any of the recent Police Blotters, the PD is releasing more detailed information about every arrest made in the city, which makes our job easier.

In addition, they've started e-mailing their full police blotter to the press daily. It was available before at the window at the police station, but the email means I can put it out to anyone who is interested.

So, I'll be posting the blotter here in the blog. I'd like to commit to doing it every day, but I know that as soon as I commit to that something will come up and I won't do it. So I'll just say that I'll post it as often as I can.

I'll tag the post with "Blotter" so if you are interested in seeing how each shift at the department goes, check in every day and you can see it for yourself.

If you have questions about anything in the blotter, feel free to e-mail me at lmccarty@saratogian.com and I'll do what I can to get you some answers.

Blotter 120712

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could run something like this in the print edition so all who read the Saratogian could benefit from it.

Yes, the current administration has been more forthcoming and improved on transparency since taking office less than one year ago. So give credit where credit is due. The commissioner has done a good job overall and has had the courage of his convictions.

If we want to address real "transparency" issues we might start by looking at how the mayor uses the"executive" session privilege to disguise such matters as the 2011 Health Department consent order regarding the City water supply.

Or how the City attorney manufactured an "opinion" on why the mayor and commissioner of public works did not have to bring a proposed agreement to sell City water to serve a Wilton subdivision.

These issues have never been reported in a comprehensive way.

He has rather routinely abused that device to hide certain matters from teh public and, yes, the press.

December 7, 2012 at 5:08 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:08pm,the water stinks and for Matesian to support that without a public hearing and enviromental reveiw is very troubling indeed,the saratogian would be doing a great service to the public if they investigated this matter....according to the DOH the city doesn't have enough water for the Beaver Pond sub division there fore one wonders how can you sell water to wilton????...Time for the Saratogian to enter the realm of Prime Time.

December 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also agree that the DPS Commissioner has raised the bar in the departments under his oversight. He is certainly a person who has come through on his campaign promises and has a better handle on his department than any other DPS Commissioner in years.

December 10, 2012 at 12:51 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people have to be joking. The current Commissioner has a personal agenda and that's as far as it goes. His Deputy is a political operative and a survivor of the system. Has it been reported that two of the Police officers involved in abusing the code of conduct are now back to work. How about the tapes - no response. The only bar he has raised is the one his deputy and herDemocratic cronies drink at every day after work. Just the example of what is stated in Executive Session is a disgrace. The Council and City Attorney only have knowledge of what occurs in Executive session. For a commentor to know means it is being leaked. Very professonal of which commissioner. It has to be a Democrat of which all three should go along with Skip. They are a disgrace!!!

December 11, 2012 at 6:13 AM 
Blogger Lucian said...

To Anonymous at 6:13 a.m.: It has been reported that two of the officers are back at work ( http://www.saratogian.com/articles/2012/12/01/news/doc50bac8c4621eb501618950.txt?viewmode=fullstory ). I am also looking into the tapes to see if A) that's true, and B) it's FOIL-able, though at first guess I'd say not at this point because it's part of an ongoing police investigation (since Braim's charges are still pending).

December 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM 

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