MPD No Longer Providing Daily Crime Summaries

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Members of the MPD2d listserv may have noticed that they haven’t received a daily summary of crimes for the last two weeks. For those not receiving this listserv, the daily update of crimes provides a listing and description of each crime that occurred in the Second District separated into each PSA (Georgetown’s is 206). For instance, on December 14th, PSA 206 reported the following crimes:

Assault occurred in the 1300 b/o Wisconsin Ave. NW on 12/13/2008
3am. 2 citizens reported they were approached from the rear by 4
suspects, knocked to the ground and beaten and kicked. One suspect
described as a white male, no further description.

Theft occurred in the 3100 b/o M St. NW on 12/13/2008 2- 250pm.
Citizen reports a wallet, laptop, cash and papers were stolen when
left unattended in a store.

Theft occurred in the 1800 b/o Wisconsin Ave. NW on 12/13/2008 5pm.
Citizen reports the suspect, a black male, 42yoa, 5’11, 240 lbs.
stole property from the display shelf. CASE ClOSED with the arrest
of the suspect.

Theft occurred in the 3100 b/o M St. NW on 12/12/2008 315- 715pm.
Citizen reports the suspect, a black male, 6′, dark complexion stole
watches from the store and fled.

Theft occurred in the 3100 b/o M St. NW on 12/13/2008 235- 305pm.
Citizen reports the suspect, a black female, 5’9, 125lbs., stole
clothing from the store by removing security sensors.

These are valuable pieces of information that keep citizens informed. They are also apparently no more. Find out more after the jump:

The crime summary listed above was the last summary sent out. After two weeks of radio silence, Assistant Chief of Police Diane Groomes issued a press release stating that the crime summaries would no longer be produced. Instead, she states that:

We ask that all utilize the crimemap application to retain information on crimes that occur in their community. This application is a very important tool that provides summary information on all Part one offenses except that of sexual assaults and homicides and also provides a mapping function for a citizen to use.

The crimemap she’s talking about is the same one GM reviewed last week. If you don’t remember, here’s the short version: it’s terrible. It’s based on inferior mapping software, it’s difficult to use, and it doesn’t allow you to actually find out any information on each crime. For crime maps, there are better options out there. But a crime map is not a satisfactory replacement for a daily list. MPD has offered the crime map for years, why does it all of the sudden think that it’s a better option than daily blotters?

Groomes’ statement may hold the answer to that:

In the past citizens did receive information via the listserv that was posted by a sworn member of the Department but we have found that the information was not uniform in nature and that some of the information revealed facts that were not for public information and jeopardized our investigatory process.  We also want to relieve a sworn member from performing such administrative tasks so that they can work out in the field.

GM thinks this is a bad idea. The daily crime summaries are vital to keeping our community informed of the crime that happens every day. Maps just simply are no replacement to text-based information feed.

Matt Klein, Acting Commander of 2D wrote in response to complaints of the move:

I want to assure that 2D community that I will continue to post information on serious incidents, or other major unusual occurrences such as a robbery spree like the one we had on December 22nd. Chief Groomes has directed all district commanders to continue to post these types of events as soon as possible so that the community is aware of serious events.

While you could make an argument that receiving a report of every single shoplifter is not crucial and that hearing only about the serious incidences is all that matters, but we already do get separate emails about these types of crimes. Why can’t we continue to get those email alerts as well as the daily summaries?

If this is indeed about not releasing non-public information, then it would seem that the answer would be to make sure you don’t release non-public information. Also, as someone suggested on the listserv, drafting the daily summary is a perfect job for the MPD auxiliary unit. If it is a waste of sworn officers time to draft these reports, maybe some other personnel would be more appropriate. In the end, if this is a cost cutting or personnel issue that simply can’t be avoided, then fine; but trying to sell the crime map as an improvement over the daily summaries is insulting.


6 Comments

Filed under Crime

6 responses to “MPD No Longer Providing Daily Crime Summaries

  1. Jay Reeder

    I can see why MPD wanted to stop generating the daily reports: it was obvious that the reports were tediously hand-compiled by a rotating case of patrol officers. Standardization and quality control were non-existent.

    But MPD ignored a better solution to this problem: they can just generate automated daily reports using the same database that drives the crime map. Their database guy (they do have one, right?) should be able to gin-up the appropriate script in a couple minutes.

    Heck, the data files can be downloaded from the crimemap.dc.gov by the general public. I may just write a script to autopost to MPD-2D myself.

  2. It would seem that this isn’t the type of thing D.C.’s CTO (great profile here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/04/AR2009010401235.html) would support. Perhaps you should reach out to him.

  3. my company, SpotCrime, has been providing email alert summaries based on address location for the last year. We pull the DC data regularly. There is also an RSS feed and a Twitter feed.

    If that’s not enough, we’ve got a Facebook app and an iPhone optimized page. And, we are mapping crimes on Georgetown Universities campus through our sister site UCrime.com.

    We are always looking for feedback.

  4. Pingback: Our Morning Roundup: Safeway Troubles - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  5. Pingback: DC Gov Drops Daily Crime E-mail, Users Unhappy with alternative, a Map « The GeoUpdate

  6. Pingback: Vox Populi » Mean streets of Georgetown: University-area crime map

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