TPD no longer holding public meetings on crime statistics
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 8:19 AM
The Tulsa Police Department no longer holds monthly public meetings to share crime statistics with the community, one of the most accessible interactions between police and the community. But officials say it's still sharing that information through other sources and working to build relationships with the public.
The department started the CompStat meetings when they adopted the data-tracking program in spring of 2009. The department still relies heavily on CompStat - short for Comparative Statistics - data to drive its investigations and patrolling practices, said department spokesman Sgt. Thom Bell.
"Most of the information we have been discussing in the meetings is now discussed in the weekly staff meetings," Bell said.
Bell said that initially, the meetings were completely open to the public and generally well attended. After the police layoffs in 2010, some meetings were canceled while manpower was shifted, Bell said.
When the meetings returned, they were modified to include a private portion where police officials would discuss specific and sometimes sensitive case information. Attendance at the meetings also dropped off over time.
"It did sometimes create obstacles, but we were always happy to have the public there," Bell said. Public participation "dwindled down as the program progressed so we had very few members who attended."
Carol Bush, executive director of the Oklahoma Crime Commission, said that having up-to-date crime data available at the meetings led to more informed people who weren't focused on high-profile cases that fill the news, but saw the large picture.
"It was more of the real data which allows us to be more strategic and focused in our efforts," said Bush, who also helps coordinate the Alert Neighbor programs and Crime Stoppers.
Bush acknowledged that most people won't actively seek out the raw crime data, but without another avenue to disseminate that data, people can miss what's happening in their community.
"If it's not easy, the people aren't going to do it," Bush said. "I know the data is there, it's work to get it."
Bell said that the data is available, but people have to want to seek that data.
"Our crime numbers are for public consumption," Bell said. "We believe that people who are aware of what's going on in their neighborhood are better prepared to guard against being victims of crime. Prevention is better than response so we want people to be aware."
Officer Jill Roberson said the department is working on ways to build community relations and share information with neighborhoods and those who want it.
Roberson and Officer Leland Ashley, the department's public information officers, respond to every community education request, she said. That includes neighborhood meetings, school and church presentations. At those meetings officers will share specific crime data and trends police are seeing in those neighborhoods.
"People who come to us want to better themselves," Roberson said.
Original Print Headline: Crime data meetings for public ended
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310