Starting this week the Tracy Police Department will begin using a new incident reporting system that will change the way records and crime statistics are recorded and reported.
On Monday the department will launch the Mark43 computer aided dispatch system. Diana Ruiz-DelRe, public information officer for the Tracy Police Department, said it’s a system designed to create more efficiency between the department’s dispatchers — who take calls from the public and also create a log of patrol officers’ activities — and the records department. The result will be increased detail and flexibility in the types of reports that the records department can generate, including a more accessible database of statistics on the types of calls police get from the public and the types of crimes police are called upon to investigate.
Ruiz-DelRe said the change was originally expected to happen in the fall but was delayed because of COVID-19. The new system will help the department comply with requirements of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which the Federal Bureau of Investigation uses to track crime and police calls across the U.S.
“NIBRS, what is reportable by law, is changing. It’s getting more detailed, like violent crime vs. property crime. This program will be able to get all of that analytic information that needs to be provided, whereas the system that we’re in is going to no longer be supported,” Ruiz-DelRe said.
“We were mandated to report violent and property crimes over to the FBI, and it usually just falls to a small group of things. Now that list is getting longer and there are more details for it, so they want it more specific.”
She noted for example that an officer responding to a citizen report of a crime may learn upon arrival that the incident could fall under multiple categories — in addition to the crime the citizen reported — should police find that different types of property crimes or violent crimes were committed. Police could also find that it’s a much different type of incident than what the citizen reported, or an officer could find that no crime was committed at all.
Ruiz-DelRe said that the new system doesn’t change the way officers make reports, or the way dispatchers record information on calls, though more detailed information in reports will ultimately be useful as the Mark43 system compiles and sorts information.
The Mark43 system is designed to provide police dispatchers and record-keepers with a way to more accurately sort and categorize those calls. Ultimately it will provide the department with a way to generate a variety of statistical reports from the information recorded by dispatchers.
The difference the public will see is in the reporting of information. California Government Code 6250-6270, the Public Records Act, spells out what kind of information government agencies must release to the public. That includes information from police records, such as the names and ages of people arrested and the charges against them, as well as the time, date and location of calls that police respond to, the nature of those calls and the nature of the police response.
For many years the dispatch logs that Tracy Police sent to the local newspaper and made available to the public in the lobby of police headquarters included that information, plus documentation of radio traffic between dispatchers and officers on the street.
The result could be multiple lines, sometimes multiple pages, describing what citizens reported and what officers observed, including the actions of officers, actions of suspects or other people at the scene of a call, including victims and witnesses, and the nature of any additional police response.
Tracy Police records staff would redact the lines that identified victims, witnesses or juvenile suspects, which are not required to be reported, as well as information that pertained to an investigation if a serious crime was committed.
That additional information will not be included in the logs that the Mark43 system generates, though Ruiz-DelRe said the new logs will still be available to the public and the media.
“They always have been and will continue to be. The difference is that before our records division would redact information to adhere to the law, and now it’s going to be computer-generated,” she said, adding that within the next few weeks the department expects to also put those logs online, with the specific location on the city’s website yet to be determined.
The new logs will include the information required by the Public Records Act, including case and incident numbers, but won’t include a log of the radio traffic, nor will they include summaries of officers’ reports. She noted that citizens can continue to make public records requests for more detailed report and logs through the city’s NextRequest portal, https://cityoftracy.nextrequest.com.
Ruiz-DelRe said that the department is already trying to get information on serious crimes and incidents and major arrests out to the public through the department’s Facebook page.
“That’s what my position is, is to have a stronger presence on social media and be a little more timely in getting that information out to the public. That is something that we’re actively working to get out there,” she said.
• Contact Bob Brownne at email@example.com, or call 209-830-4227.