Denver Police's allegedly faster reporting system hits a snag

The new-fangled way of getting police reports hits a snag.

The February 14 Message column concerned a new approach by the Denver Police Department to make incident reports available to the news media. Instead of printing out copies of full reports and placing them in a room at the department's Cherokee Street headquarters, the DPD announced that it would send lists of synopsized entries electronically, then divvy out the complete information at the specific request of a news outlet. The method added convenience on the front end, but critics at papers such as the Denver Daily News worried that it would make it more difficult to determine which reports were of the interest, since the e-mails contained the barest of details, and would add another layer of bureaucracy that could result in info delays.

Yesterday, such fears came true.

On that day, a media report turned up consisting of incidents registered on September 10 -- pretty timely. But also arriving were reports for several previous days, going all the way back to September 5, nearly a week earlier.

As most of us realize, the root word of "news" is "new" -- meaning that the press endeavors to bring the public the freshest information available. And that purpose is defeated if the Denver Police Department is going to wait six days to make public details it's required by law to provide. Moreover, the department can't blame the Democratic National Convention for the problem. The DNC was long over by the time this glitch came along. Technology was supposed to speed up this process, not make it so slow as to be pointless.

Peruse the September 5 police report by clicking here. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts