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Sirens & Gavels

Spokane police will participate in White House open data initiative

The Spokane Police Department will participate in a White House initiative to build community trust and transparency by putting law enforcement data online.

Perhaps even better for other data geeks out there, the datasets must meet White House guidelines. That means (fingers crossed) no more PDFs.

Spokane is one of 53 police departments across now participating in the Police Open Data Initiative, the White House said in a news release Thursday.

The project aims to make data more accessible through a wide variety of tools, including a public safety data portal and local hackathons at partner sites. The White House is also working in partnership with Code for America to build open-source software making it easier to post data from IA Pro - a database many departments, including Spokane, use to for internal affairs reports.

Police spokeswoman Officer Teresa Fuller said the department is working with the city's IT staff to develop a program that will regularly post three types of data on the department's website:

  • Collision reports
  • Calls for service based on computed-aided dispatch (CAD) logs, which generally show the date, time and location an officer was called to along with the initial nature of the call (for example, suspicious person, assault or welfare check)
  • Preliminary reports on crimes covered under the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which includes homicides, felony assaults, robberies, vehicle thefts and burglaries

Fuller said the department joined the project last year under former Chief Frank Straub and has regular check-ins with the White House.

Most of the specifics, including the timeframe for getting the program up and running, are still being worked out. Fuller wasn't sure what format the data would be in, but said it would be easily searchable and conform to White House standards.

I'll report back once the data is up and there's a records layout to go along with it. If you want to grab a beer and geek out over open police data, drop me a line at rachela@spokesman.com.




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Rachel Alexander
Rachel Alexander came to the Spokesman-Review in 2014 after working for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She covers social services, health and science for the City Desk and writes a monthly data-focused column, Know Spokane.

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