If you subscribe to listservs in D.C., you know all about the daily crime reports that are sent out by D.C. police alerting the public to all crimes in each of the department's districts, broken down by PSA.
But as The Georgetown Metropolitan blog found out, those crime reports are no more.
Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes sent out a letter on Friday telling listserv members that the crime reports, which many people found to be a valuable tool in their daily lives, would stop being published and that citizens should go to the city's crime map instead to look up incidents. The reason given: Some information about investigations that shouldn't have been released to the public was being released, hampering the department's ability to fight and solve crimes.
If that's the real reason, it sounds more like a communication issue on the part of District officers and could be solved by a little more teamwork and, well, internal communication.
As for the map Groomes referred to, the GM blog finds it a poor substitute for the daily postings:
"The crime map 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?"
Points well taken. Take a look at the crime map and see if you find it easy to use or not, or if you know of a better way to get crime info in D.C.
Groomes' complete letter to citizens is posted below:
DEAR COMMUNITY MEMBERS:
We have received numerous inquiries and requests for crime information
from the community. We address the requests through many ways to include
the monthly PSA meeting, the monthly CAC meetings and through our
We want to ensure that all communities receive the information about
crimes that occur in their neighborhoods in ways that protect the
victim, protect the integrity of the investigation and provide the
valuable information that citizens want and need.
We ask that all utilize the firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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. The email@example.com application in fact provides more
information than that of the general posting of crimes for one can map
their crime daily or monthly and also get an analysis of crime for
specific time periods or just request a daily report.
We have also queried our other benchmark police departments and found
that many do not post any crime information to the public and those that
did post did not reveal summaries of the offense.
We want to also advise the citizens that the information that is
generated into firstname.lastname@example.org is created by a process of data entry
that involves a multi-level review thus at times may delay information
from being displayed or not include all facts....therefore we are in the
process of improving this.
Our number one goal of course is to provide the most timely and accurate
crime data to the public and we have provided the guide to this
application on our webpage. We will also be holding public seminars in
January to assist the community on utilizing email@example.com .
The District Commanders will also ensure that critical incidents that
occur such as homicides, shootings and critical incidents that may
impact a neighborhood will be posted by their Watch Commanders prior to
the tour ending on the listserv.
We want to wish all a Happy and SAFE New Year!
Diane C. Groomes
Assistant Chief of Police, Patrol Services and School Security Bureau