Police Reports

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?
ouroborus4
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Police Reports

Postby ouroborus4 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:45 am

So I read the police reports listed on the city's website quite frequently. I'm wondering who decides what is important for the public to know and what isn't. Granted, I don't want to know about every speeding ticket, but there have been incidents that I've witnessed in my neighborhood and elsewhere that were clearly significant, but there was no mention in either the police reports or the media (or on the crime maps). Is there a way to get information as to what happened?

For example, I saw 8 police cars block off a square block, and several police officers canvas the back yards, and surround a house with their guns drawn. I saw another example where an ambulance and fire truck rushed to a house, followed by 4 police cars. A young woman was taken away with a jacket over her head, while a young man was interrogated by the officers (not sure of the outcome). An officer took pictures of the property and what is presumably the victim. I understand that not every incident should be reported, but what is the threshhold and who decides what is in the public's interest to know. I'm very curious to know what happened in these two cases, but there have been several other incidents which I am curious as to the outcome, but are likely less severe. If I have witnessed these, I wonder how many other instances have occurred that never get reported. Have there been instances you've observed that have not been reported, but you think should have?

rabble
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Re: Police Reports

Postby rabble » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:08 am

I know of several breakins and robberies that never made it into the public police blotter. If it was in a newspaper page I'd say it might be that they don't have the room but the website police report can be as long as they want it to be. High profile stuff makes it in, and things like bike path attacks seem to be reported. Other things are spotty.

I don't see any pattern to what makes it in and what doesn't, except that there seems to be a numeric limit. It appears that we want the general public to have the impression that there's less crime than there really is.

Dangerousman
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Re: Police Reports

Postby Dangerousman » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:42 am

Madison PD published incident reports are random at best. Whether there is an incident report is subject to a lot of variations, including the whim of the officer in charge at the time of the incident. If you listen to the police scanner (you can listen to Madison's online for free) you'll get a better picture of what goes on around you, although even that is a partial (though larger) picture.

If you have greater curiosity about an incident, put in an open records request and get the full (or fuller) story.

On Madison PD's website under the "Data and Information" tab there is a link to crimereports.com

https://www.crimereports.com/map/index/ ... Madison+WI

This map is interactive and you can customize it to show where various types of police calls or incidents happened recently. It also will show where the registered sex offenders live. You can look back at the past few days, or past month, and select the kinds of incidents you want... assaults, burglary, traffic stops, and so on. The descriptions are scant, but it gives you a clue as to the nature of the call and you can use the time and date to narrow down your open records request should you desire greater information. The map also gives you a pretty clear idea of what are the safer and less safe areas of town. Unfortunately it doesn't include those pockets of non-Madison, such as Fitchburg, Town of Madison, Monona, etc.

Now the PD may deny or delay your open records request with a "it's an ongoing investigation" line. That's ok, just request the records from the Dane Co. Emergency Dispatch (911) center. You can get the audio of dispatch and talk between police units. You can request a copy of the CAD (computer aided dispatch) too. The 911 center isn't an investigatory agency, so they can't--- or shouldn't-- use the "it's an ongoing investigation" line on you. They don't investigate crimes. If they try that ploy, challenge them on it. They'll cave in. Trust me, been there, done that.

narcoleptish
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Re: Police Reports

Postby narcoleptish » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:52 am

It says this at the top of the incident reports page:

Incidents listed are selected by the Officer In Charge of each shift that may have significant public interest. Incidents listed are not inclusive of all incidents. Requests for information can be directed to the MPD Records Unit: (608) 266-4075.


I've always gotten the idea that a lot more goes on than the public is ever aware of. One retiring officer told me, several years ago, that they were considering leaving the area because of the increasing crime they were seeing.

Without quoting statistics I'd guess that we're pretty normal for a city our size. On the crime side that is.

ouroborus4
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Re: Police Reports

Postby ouroborus4 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:52 am

Thanks D-man. Yeah, I've been to that map, but it doesn't show any of the incidents I've witnessed, so its not comprehensive. I thought about open records, but I'm not interested in paying for it. I didn't know the scanner was available online. I'll check that out next time.

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Re: Police Reports

Postby snoqueen » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:00 am

Scanner:

http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/ctid/3064/?rl=rr

On the android platform, try the internet radio app TuneIn Radio. Go to browse/local radio and scroll down. You can find not only city of Madison but county police radio and everything else you ever dreamed of.

Of course, somebody's probably collecting data on what you listen to, so calibrate this option with your personal level of paranoia.

Twitter feed:
@madisonpolice

Sometimes this one is hilarious. I know we're trying to be all serious here, but just sayin'.

rabble
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Re: Police Reports

Postby rabble » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:13 am

ouroborus4 wrote:Thanks D-man. Yeah, I've been to that map, but it doesn't show any of the incidents I've witnessed, so its not comprehensive.

I assumed the map was just the incident reports displayed a different way. It would look like more because it's not displayed by date.

Does the open records law allow us to request a list of every incident logged during any time window or do you first have to know the incident occurred before you can request it?

ouroborus4
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Re: Police Reports

Postby ouroborus4 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:52 am

I'm also interested in stories of incidents that people have witnessed that weren't reported or were particularly awe inspiring.

Dangerousman
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Re: Police Reports

Postby Dangerousman » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:55 am

rabble wrote:
ouroborus4 wrote:Thanks D-man. Yeah, I've been to that map, but it doesn't show any of the incidents I've witnessed, so its not comprehensive.

I assumed the map was just the incident reports displayed a different way. It would look like more because it's not displayed by date.

Does the open records law allow us to request a list of every incident logged during any time window or do you first have to know the incident occurred before you can request it?


If the department maintains such a log, it would be subject to the open records law. But I'm pretty sure thay cannot be required to create a record (the log) to satisfy your request. So you could request the log, and they should either turn it over or respond by saying they have no such record of the type you described.

rabble
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Re: Police Reports

Postby rabble » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:02 am

In other words there is no way to get a complete list of all crimes within any given time window. What we get is what they want us to get.

Even a constant monitoring of police broadcasts would not give us a confirmable, complete list

Dangerousman
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Re: Police Reports

Postby Dangerousman » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:05 am

rabble wrote:In other words there is no way to get a complete list of all crimes within any given time window. What we get is what they want us to get.

Even a constant monitoring of police broadcasts would not give us a confirmable, complete list


Well I get the impression that new reporters do look at some sort of police blotter to see if there's anything they wish to report. So maybe there is a log. I honestly don't know for sure. You could call and ask.

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Re: Police Reports

Postby Stu Levitan » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:28 am

Wait, what? Call and ask the person who could answer the question definitively, rather than toss something out on an internet chat room filled with pseudonymous posters who may or may not have any clue what they're talking about?? Why would somebody do that?

BTW - here's the open data portal for all police calls. Searchable by offense, date, location, etc.

Stebben84
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Re: Police Reports

Postby Stebben84 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:38 am

Stu Levitan wrote:BTW - here's the open data portal for all police calls. Searchable by offense, date, location, etc.


You could have just posted this without being such an asshole.

ouroborus4
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Re: Police Reports

Postby ouroborus4 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 10:38 am

Thanks Stu, that is much more comprehensive, but again, neither of the incidents I described are listed there. Wonder why? They both seemed to be pretty major incidents.

Dangerousman
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Re: Police Reports

Postby Dangerousman » Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:11 am

ouroborus4 wrote:Thanks Stu, that is much more comprehensive, but again, neither of the incidents I described are listed there. Wonder why? They both seemed to be pretty major incidents.


One, it looks like it's about 2 months behind on data entry and two, are the incidents of interest to you within the City of Madison?


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