Sunday, October 18, 2009

WPD crime reports in NWH

How informed about crime should residents of a town be? If there is little or nothing in the newspapers about crime, should residents assume their town has little or no crime?

The Police Reports for Woodstock in this morning's Northwest Herald (Page 2B) caught my attention for several reasons.

1. The Northwest Herald doesn't publish reports of crime in Woodstock very often. A while back a reporter informed me that these are published only about once a month.

2. The Northwest Herald doesn't publish very many crime reports for Woodstock. Today, only 15 arrests were published. OK, so there is a "price tag" or cost for every column-inch of newspaper space.

3. One 18-year-old in today's Reports has been in the news several times this year;

4. and then I noticed that the Police Reports published today, October 18, 2009, are for the period August 23-30!

Perhaps the Northwest Herald publishes Woodstock Crime Reports more often than monthly and I just don't see them, as I browse through the paper each morning. (Yes, I still subscribe to the print edition, although I also read it online. It would cost me money to cancel my subscription; coupon values exceed the monthly cost of the paper.)

The Woodstock Police issue several hundred traffic tickets every month and and write several hundred reports, many presumably for arrests of people for crimes. Does the Police Department provide this information to the newspapers on a timely basis, but the Northwest Herald just doesn't publish it?

The Woodstock Independent publishes about one-half page of Police Reports every week.

Aren't residents entitled to know of this activity? Should the Woodstock Police Department create webpages for listings of all crimes and arrests in the City?

12 comments:

Frank said...

Gus, just as I mentioned before I like to live in a bubble. My taxes pay the police to keep me out of the "know". Why on earth would I want to know of every bad thing happening in ANY town I live in? So I can stress about the safety of my kids walking to school? Or my wife grocery shopping?
You want the police department to enter all the information of crime reports onto a web page? Great idea sheriff! While the economy is slow and jobs are being cut, why don't we pay someone to enter useless information onto a city website!

ace said...

You would have a big fit if your crimes were posted, i.e. multiple traffic violations. The wannabe sheriff cant have that publicity.

Gus said...

ace, now you know that's not true. If you are going to make accusations like that, come out of the closet and put your own name on comments.

Then tell us about all the times that other cops and you have been stopped for traffic violations including DUI, and have gotten a "pass", because either you badged the cop who stopped you or he knew you and let you go.

ace said...

"If you are going to make accusations like that", you just contradict yourself every time your mouth opens. Its like your mouth falls down the stairs.

Gus said...

Come on, ace. Put your full name on your comments.

Another Lawyer said...

Ok, I'll tell you a little story. I went to the Woodstock police department and asked if I could review the blotter each day. I was told no.

Later I received a letter from Woodstock's legal counsel informing me that I could file a FOIA request, but that information could not be used commercially.

Then I received a second letter that in effect told me not to seek this information or I could be in trouble. (Which I really don't give a rat's behind about coming from the second rate attorney it came from).

Woodstock doesn't want these people to have representation because it's much easier if they just plead guilty.

. . . there are some pretty dark things happening over in the "to protect and serve" department.

Gus said...

Another Lawyer, I would enjoy putting my letter alongside yours.

The Woodstock Police Chief informed me about a year ago that the WPD supplies arrest reports to the media on a daily basis when possible "...but in no event more than 72 hours from the arrest."

A NWH reporter informed me that he received blotter items daily but typed them in only about once monthly.

It seems that WPD issues crime reports by fax, which then requires a reporter to re-type them, causing unnecessary inconvenience, expense and delay. So much for a partnership with the media!

A California police officer wrote me late last year that his department "took a beating" about a year earlier from the San Diego Tribune, resulting in that department's issuing press releases for everything and maintaining a book at the front counter of the police department with a computer print-out of reports for the past 30 days.

What kind of "trouble" could you possible be in for filing FOIA requests for crime reports??

Should we start faxing FOIA Requests daily? Actually, a better place for FOIA Requests for the Police Department is the City Clerk, who is the City's FOIA Officer.

ace said...

You would love nothing more than for me to put my name on here. You first, and I mean your real name.

The Madd Bulldog said...

JFC!!! IMHO yall have lost the focus here. The Police are to prevent and/or act upon crime, amongst other things. That's what they're to do- protect and serve. Not constantly having to complete FOIA or report to the newspapers after every minor arrest.
Just my drunken opinion...

Gus said...

Ahh, but don't you see? If the police, as "public servants" paid for by the taxpayers, reported adequately, fully, and voluntarily to the public through the media, then there would be little need for FOIA requests...

Debra said...

As a business manager that rents space in Woodstock I find value in crime reports. For example a tenant of mine made the paper for theft against her employer. She kept stolen goods here so I evicted her. I wish Woodstock was listed weekly in the crime reports. Maybe this is something that Gus or Zane can change if and when one of them are in position.

Gus said...

Debra, you have great influence yourself. Contact Tim Clifton, Mayor Sager and each Woodstock City Council person and ask that crime reports be published on the police department's website. Ask for a commitment from each on his or her position.

Newspapers will make only a certain amount of space available; print space is expensive "real estate".

Tomorrow night's City Council meeting would be a good time and place to launch your request.

If you are a member of the Chamber of Commerce, ask the Board to direct its Executive Director to work out a plan with the City. The PD is part of the City, and your request should be made to the City, not just to the PD.