Sentinel staff report–
Residents looking for daily reports of police logs in Citrus Heights are now able to access them on the Police Department’s website again.
In a March 9 email to The Sentinel, Police Chief Alex Turcotte said the decision to resume publishing public logs was made in response to requests from the community to bring back the logs, which had been published daily on the department’s website until being discontinued in 2019.
Turcotte said in a followup phone call Friday that the department has about 250-300 calls for service on average, with additional phone calls also being fielded by dispatchers. Citing a recent 24-hour period, Turcotte said the department had 250 calls for service, 381 phone calls, and 47 reports, which he said is typical.
Annually, the department averages about 90,000 calls for service. Turcotte said a call for service is “anything that gets an incident number,” and does not include calls where dispatchers were able to resolve the call over the phone and no one was dispatched.
The department’s new incident logs page lists a report of most calls for service, with a time listed, location, and brief description. A separate tab lists arrests made each day, with the name, address and criminal charges listed.
Business names and cross streets are typically included, but street names do not include numbers or the hundred block of the address, leaving some locations vague. Turcotte said residential addresses are not listed for privacy, except in cases where an arrest was made.
The page initially categorized logs by “activity logs,” “arrest logs,” and “report logs,” but Turcotte said a decision was quickly made to merge the activity and report logs together for clarity. Moving forward, he said incidents that ended with a report being made will have the report number and a brief description added to the activity log.
Incidents involving a report being filed are typically where a crime has taken place or when a collision occurs, the chief said. Turcotte said some police activity will not be included in the logs, giving examples of certain domestic violence calls with sensitive information, or incidents involving police surveillance.
Log descriptions are noticeably more brief than the department’s prior logs, but take up less staff time to produce. Turcotte said he’s “trying to release more information than not,” but acknowledged that log descriptions are limited due to several interests being balanced.
“We want to balance the interest of the public to know information with the rights of other members of the public to privacy,” Turcotte said. Logs previously took 3-4 hours per day to prepare for release, whereas the new system only takes staff between an hour to an hour-and-a-half, he said.
Dispositions for each log entry were also previously included up until the daily logs were discontinued in 2019, but are not included in the new logs due to technical limitations, Turcotte said. Currently, each officer enters a disposition code when dispatched to an incident, but on incidents where multiple officers are dispatched, the system is not able to automatically determine which disposition code should be listed in the public log.
He said in cases where multiple officers respond, the disposition code for most of the officers just says “assisted,” but that would not be the actual outcome of the incident.
Turcotte said his team is in contact with the department’s vendor to add a disposition for each entry, but currently entering the correct disposition would require a staff member to review the details of each incident in order to determine the correct disposition, which would take significant time when multiplied by hundreds of calls.
Turcotte said the department’s new public logs are “a starting point for now,” but are a work in progress with changes already being made. He said members of the public wishing to share feedback can do so by calling the department’s non-emergency number at (916) 727-5500, or by submitting a comment online on the police department’s website.
To view the logs page online, visit: citrusheights.net/347/Incident-Logs
In November 2019, the Police Department stopped posting daily incident bulletins, with a spokeswoman telling The Sentinel that the reports had “become too cumbersome and time consuming for staff to continue to produce.”
That decision prompted several letters to the editor from disappointed residents who found the logs to be a valuable source of information about local crimes and trends. Additional letters have also been published since that time, with Turcotte telling The Sentinel in December that he was reviewing the matter and looking into an automated solution.
Logs resumed being published this month, with the first date included being March 1. Logs are posted daily, except for weekends and holidays, when they will be posted on the next business day. Logs will be kept online for 30 days.
Sentinel staff report--
Residents looking for daily reports of police logs in Citrus Heights are now able to access them on the Police Department's website again.
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