The mystery of the missing narratives. Ever since the Dallas Police Department's public reports system came back online after a more than month-long hiatus last summer, it's been on everybody's -- well everybody who, you know, could use this sort of thing for a blog post or whatever -- mind. Only the most basic details about whatever crimes happened in Dallas overnight are available now, much to the chagrin of Unfair Park and crime-watch block captains everywhere.
Now, by way of a presentation prepared by the DPD for the Dallas City Council's public safety committee, we at least know why. According to the report, the system that pulled public information from police reports made before June 1, 2014 disclosed too much.
Limitations in the type of filtering that the old system could do led to information being released that shouldn't have been, police say. The new system protects against releasing inappropriate information -- such as the identity of victims of sexual crimes or information about underage victims or suspects -- but the filters it uses cannot be applied, DPD says, to a "free-text" field. DPD is training officers, it says, to put more narrative information in the motus operandi (MO) section of the reports, which can be filtered. Cops are also, according to the department, being trained to write legally compliant public narratives.
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The presentation also deals with the lack of updates provided by the current online report system. Previously, new reports were available every 15 minutes. Now, the system is only updated once a day, late at night so "system performance is not impacted."