Public safety transparency
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do what I can to get you some answers.