Is it really a good idea to embed news reporters with public agencies?

4 Apr
I found this Enterprise Record story, originally run in February, when I was doing some research on crime reports in Chico. Read on – the ER now has a “public safety” reporter. Give me a break – this isn’t journalism Dave, it’s propaganda.

Chico police address 2014 crime report, say changes implemented

Joe Montes, general manager of AAA properties, talks about the rise of break-ins, on April 1 in the downtown parking structure on West Fourth and Salem streets. Frank Rebelo — EnterpRise-Record
A car parked on 17th Street between Mulberry and Hemlock streets had its window bashed in Aug. 17 and a bag was stolen from the back of the car.Emily Bertolino — Enterprise-Record

Chico >> For the first time in several years, the Chico Police Department said it is getting a more complete picture of the crimes in the city.

On Wednesday, the Chico Police Department released its 2014 crime report, which highlights an increase in overall crime in Chico.

There were 3,647 crimes reported, which when based on population size, it is the third highest number on record since 1999, with 2002 and 2004 being the highest.

Chico police said referring people to CopLogic, an online reporting system implemented January 2014, for property crimes likely resulted in a more accurate picture of crimes occurring.

The Police Department knew for several years that it was losing valuable information by not sending out officers to certain calls, Capt. Lori MacPhail told this newspaper. Because of the lack of officers, “the department was operating like an emergency room doing triage.”

Capturing all the information is valuable to the city, she added.

“Even though (CopLogic) is painful and awkward for the public, the department is seeing better reporting,” MacPhail said.

So far this year, there are approximately 500 CopLogic reports that have been filed, which is trending higher than last year.

In 2012, the Chico Police Department said a decrease in staffing levels may have resulted in a dip in crime reports.

“We simply don’t have the level of staffing needed to adequately report and document the crimes that are happening,” crime analyst Robert Woodward said at the time.

The 2014 crime report doesn’t tell the whole story, Chico police Capt. Mike O’Brien said during a press conference Thursday. However, it does show a trend.

Chico police said an accurate picture of crime levels and locations are helping the Police Department focus on issues that need to be addressed.

According to the report, during a 10-year span, Chico had seen crime numbers lower than the national trend, but the local numbers are now increasing.

Overall crime in Chico increased by 22 percent last year, and has jumped by 50 percent from 2011 to 2014.

Crimes against people increased 9.4 percent and property crimes rose by 23.6 percent from the previous year, according to the analysis.

MacPhail said she was most alarmed at the rise of sexual assaults.

The number of rapes rose by 46 percent, with 51 cases reported in 2014 as opposed to 35 in 2013.

An uptick in sexual assaults is “not acceptable at all,” she said.

The community needs to do more to raise awareness and not be bystanders, she added. It’s also imperative for people to avoid situations that put them at risk.

Last year saw the third-highest number of rapes reported since 2005. There were 69 cases in 2006 and 55 in 2007.

The property crime numbers are the statistics that are assumed to be influenced by the introduction of CopLogic.

In 2014, larcenies, or thefts, jumped approximately 49 percent.

MacPhail said that as a response to the trends captured, Chico police implemented changes to address some of the issues.

For about a month, Chico police Sgt. Scott Zuschin and two officers have been focusing on problem-oriented policing, she said. The team will be dedicated to downtown, but will have the flexibility to be redirected to handle calls or issues that need to be addressed.

A single reason for the uptick in crimes reported cannot be pinpointed, according to police. Instead, it’s a combination of issues, such as Proposition 47, staffing levels and substance abuse.

The staffing plan introduced by Clean & Safe Chico is a positive impact to begin reversing the trend, but people need to be patient, MacPhail said.

At the moment, the department has hired three officers who are completing the law enforcement academy, and by December, there should be more “new faces.”

Interim Police Chief Mike Dunbaugh has also asked Chico State University about the potential to have University Police Department officers help patrol the areas surrounding the university if UPD staffing allows it, MacPhail said.

According to the report, alcohol-related crimes were highly concentrated in downtown and the neighborhoods surrounding the university, which has been a solid trend throughout the years.

MacPhail encourages the public to read the full report and look at the charts, she said. It’s important for the community to have total awareness and a complete picture.

The numbers reflected in the report are only for crimes reported to the Chico Police Department. To view the full report, go to http://bit.ly/1zfpIii.

Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at 896-7760.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Almendra CarpizoAlmendra Carpizo is the public safety reporter for the Enterprise-Record. A graduate of Chico State, she has worked for this newspaper since January 2013. Reach the author at acarpizo@chicoer.com or follow Almendra on Twitter: @almendracarpizo
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2 Responses to “Is it really a good idea to embed news reporters with public agencies?”

  1. Juanita Sumner April 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    I don’t know what’s wrong with the comment function, Bob sent this comment but it wouldn’t post.

    “They should not be called reporters. They should be called stenographers. The majority of the paragraphs in that article directly quote a Chico PD official and most of the rest just regurgitate what the Chico PD said somewhere else. No analysis whatsoever.

    Also, the police have no obligation to protect you. See Warren vs District of Columbia. Also, the criminal “justice” system has no obligation to help make the victim of crime whole.

    People need to understand the primary purpose of police is to protect the state. Now you sure would never read that in the Chico Enterprise Wretched or the Snooze and Review. That is just quite too much truth for them.”

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