Mullen Says New Police Portal Will Provide Timely Data on Crime

Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen told Beyond Catfish Row that his department will begin posting up-to-date data about crime, traffic stops, contacts, use of force and other police activities within two months.

Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen at Listening Session of Illumination Project.

Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen at Listening Session of Illumination Project.

Mullen said his department has “already connected” with the White House-created Police Data Initiative to make all such data available to the public on a new portal “almost in real time.”

The move is the first step by the Charleston Police Department in developing a robust website on its activities to replace the current site, which consists of brief quarterly summaries of police activities. Local police departments around the nation are moving in this direction.

One of the most detailed and user-friendly local sites is the one operated by the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department, which allows users to create their own neighborhood activity map by type of felony and other crime and compare it to other neighborhoods.

Mullen told Beyond Catfish Row that the new portal will “allow citizens and researchers the ability to review and capture data that can be pulled in raw form and sliced and diced in many different ways.  We are already sampling our system and I have a meeting next week with the team to review the initial process.  I anticipate that we will begin posting information on this portal in 45-60 days.”

The chief also said the Charleston Illumination Project’s technology committee will, by December, begin research, including looking at software solutions, “that will allow the community to have better access and awareness about, crime and police activity.  It is my plan to have this group meet with me in October, get their directions, and begin their process.   The goal is to have this presented in June 2017 for inclusion in our 2018 [Police Department] budget.”

The initiatives that Mullen described to Beyond Catfish Row are not part of the 10 strategies that the Illumination Project singled out as priorities for action in 2016 in its presentation to the Mayor and City Council at a Council meeting on Tuesday. But they look like a promising start toward creation of an interactive website that the public can use to see what crime is happening neighborhood to neighborhood.

The Police Data Initiative with which the Charleston’s Police Department is consulting grew out of the White House’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, whose overall aim is to promote a model of local police as “guardians” of the community, not as “warriors.”  The Illumination Project's revised list of its 86 citizen and police strategies integrates the “Guardian Mindset concept” in the 10 strategies that are top priorities for 2016.

The overall goal of the Illumination Project is to create a safer Charleston where individual rights are strongly protected. The project was developed by the nonprofit Charleston Police Foundation, which helps fund activities of the Charleston Police Department. 

Here are the 10 high-priority strategies of the Illumination Project:

STRATEGY 1. Collaborate with citizens who are disproportionately impacted by crime to develop crime reduction strategies to improve relationships and gain cooperation.

STRATEGY 2. Continue Listening Sessions in all parts of the community.

STRATEGY 3. Expand the department training curriculum for officers and supervisors [to promote among other things the Guardian Concept of law enforcement].

STRATEGY 4. Promote de-escalation as a core principle of the department’s training program.

STRATEGY 5. Identify, where needed create, and then disseminate instructional material, using both traditional methods and social media, to youth and adults about proper protocols to follow during citizen/police encounters to reduce the likelihood of conflict and confrontation.

STRATEGY 6. Create, train, and equip a Police Citizen Advisory Council (PCAC), ensuring transparency and broad participation in member selection including community activists, neighborhood leaders, educators, retired professionals from criminal justice, legal, and victim services, researchers, and youth, using input from elected leaders, community members and police employees.

STRATEGY 7. Implement an impartial Police Citizen Advisory Council that works with the police to develop and evaluate policies and procedures involving priority issues.

STRATEGY 8. Expand citizen/police interaction in challenged neighborhoods during non-crisis or enforcement situations by increasing communication about current programs and community outreach opportunities.

STRATEGY 9. Provide input for a process to make it easy and secure for citizens to make a complaint and or/provide a compliment about a police officer through a variety of methods which includes a notification letter of the complaint and disposition.

STRATEGY 10. Develop and implement a Chief’s Young Adults Advisory Council to provide input into community issues, problem-solving and create programs that support ongoing, positive interaction between youth and police officers.

TOM GRUBISICH