Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Incident listing explained

It is apparent from some of the comments posted on The Chief's Corner that many readers are checking in on the Lincoln Police Department's daily call summary posted on our public web site. I received on off-blog email this morning from a citizen with a question:

"Chief Casady:

When looking at the daily call summary online, it is always a 'Selected Listing of Recent Incidents.' What criteria does a call need to meet to be selected, or is it simply an officer discretion kind of thing?"
Upon reflection, I think this might be slightly confusing to others, so here's the detailed description that I emailed back in response. This might help people understand in more detail exactly what you are looking at.

"The table of dispatched events is complete: that is everything we sent police officers to on the day in question. These data come from the Dispatch Records created at the Emergency Communications Center whenever an officer is assigned to a event. These records are uploaded to our Records Management System every minute, and the table is created from there. The listing of selected Incident Reports comes from our Records Management System. Essentially, an Incident Report is the original one-page summary report of a crime.

Incident Reports are prepared by the assigned officer on all crimes, and a few non-criminal events--such as missing persons and certain disturbances. Since it is created after the fact, the Incident Report can be delayed--sometimes (with a supervisor's approval) even a day or more beyond the officer's tour of duty. Conversely, the dispatch record is near real-time, with just a delay of a couple of minutes as the data transfers. Note, however, that for the current day, we post a fresh html table of dispatches on the hour.

Only about one dispatch in three results in an Incident Report. Many cases are resolved on the spot without any reports required, others result in Accident Reports, Information Reports, or Additional Case Investigation Reports.

I believe that Forgery and sexual assault are the only ones held back entirely from the selected incident report listing (the former because of volume, the later to help protect the victim's privacy.) There are a few incident types for which we are not posting the summary comments field: missing persons, sex offense-other, and child abuse. In looking over comments, I felt that there was some highly personal material in the summary comments of both missing persons and child abuse incident reports. For the sex offense-other cases, there was often some pretty strong language that concerned me a little. While this isn't always the case, this listing has to be automated, and there wasn't any way to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, so we just strip off the cases using the incident code.

Regards,

Tom Casady"

8 comments:

PrairieDog said...

How does the police department work with federal and state FOIA laws so that it is in compliance?

Tom Casady said...

Great question, Prairie Dog. Nebraska's public records law essentially says that the records of government are open and available to the public. There, is, however, an exemption for investigative records of law enforcement agencies.

Another section of Nebraska Statutes, the Criminal History Information Act, specifically declares certain kinds of police records to be public records including criminal history information, mug shots, police blotters, offense reports, and incident reports.

We make available those things that are often requested and clearly public records at our Records Unit and in some cases online. When we receive a FOIA request, it is reviewed by our legal advisor, researched, and responded to as the law requires.

Anonymous said...

FOIA=Freedom of Information Act. I know someone out there was wondering.

Anonymous said...

I showed some frieds from Omaha your blog, LPD's web site and incident summaries, and CrimeView Community. They were wondering why in the...world...OPD doesn't have similar handy resources available to the hundreds of thousands of Omahans that fund their agency.
I just said they should ask the guy in charge of OPD, because of all people, that's the person best situated to change things.

Tom Casady said...

BTW, I'm wrong. We used to redact certain Incident Reports, but no more. That's the full list of the IRs prepared on the day in question. The comments field, however, is redacted on Incident Reports for child abuse, missing person sex offenses, suicides/attempts, and deaths. Forgot that we had changed that a while back....

Anonymous said...

Chief:

I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog. I'm sure it takes a fair amount of your time, but I think its educational value to the public is well worth it. I don't always agree with you, but I think you are doing a great job with the resources at your disposal. I just read an article about a new arena/convention center project that will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for many years. I'm sure a lot of people are all for it. However, I'm also sure there are just as many Lincoln taxpayers who would rather see that money go into additional law enforcement. I'm one of them.

Anonymous said...

I'm another one of those (people who would rather see at least a healthy chunk of that redundant arena boondoggle money instead go to law enforcement).

Anonymous said...

OPD's boss probably doesn't even know how to get to Radio Shack.