Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bring Back the Blotter!

Two years ago, the Hayward Police Department joined the public safety website Nixle. Each week, the department would post a blotter to the Nixle platform. It provided an informative description of recent criminal activity, the corresponding police response, and the outcome.

In March of this year the regular posting of the blotter abruptly stopped with a promise that it would return three weeks later in a new and improved format. Two months have now passed since it was supposed to have returned.

(Message posted to Nixle by Hayward PD in March)

When I inquired to staff as to what was going on, I was told that the blotter was discontinued because it was thought that it cast Hayward in a bad light. It would return when it could be figured out how to present the information in way that didn't reflect so negatively on the city.

Huh? This doesn't really seem to jibe with the PD's previous message. But if what I was told is true, we're probably in for a long wait. How do you put a happy face on criminal activity?

CrimeMapping.com still appears to be updated by the department. But with descriptions of only one or two words in length, the information is hardly useful or interesting. What's more, this kind of limited reporting actually does make the city look bad, because it only indicates widespread criminal activity and not successful policing in the form of identifying suspects and making arrests.

To be useful to residents and businesses (and therefore the department itself), the reporting should be detailed and accurate without any unnecessary censorship or spin. It should also include mug shots like those included in the Union City Police Blotter. Geo-referencing the information to an interactive map is also nice, but without a truly descriptive narrative it is of little value.

Please bring back the blotter.

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