May 3, 2012
While compiling statistics for Tulare Police Department, Senior Management Analyst Melody Tucker says accuracy is a must.
“You have to know you produce valid data,” she said. “That information must be reliable. It has to be accurate.”
Faulty information can send law enforcement agencies the wrong direction when dealing with a crime wave or be late in reallocating resources to handle hard-to-spot trends.
“It’s not what you want when you’re running a law enforcement agency,” Tucker said.
Tulare police’s record division keeps data generated by the department. Maintaining statistics and producing reports is just one of the division’s functions.
Tucker said statistics reports for the department help provide the definitive proof trends spotted by officers.
“They know what’s going on,” she said. “My job is to give facts of what they know instinctively.
But the local department is not the lone agency using statistics compiled by Tulare police.
There are up 70 federal, state and local agencies, including Tulare fire and city departments, that use the statistical information produced, Tucker said. And the information goes from reported crimes to traffic accidents and from arrests made to the numbers of vehicles stored or impounded.
“They rely on us to provide the data they need,” she said.
The agencies receiving the data include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which receives statistics from every enforcement agency throughout the nation to spot crime trends nationwide, and the city’s engineering department, completing traffic flow study at busy intersections.
Other agencies that receive the department’s data include schools and the military, mainly background checks and information.
“The FBI’s trend is based on what we report to them,” she said.
Requests for statistical information can come at any time. Media organizations or state agencies are frequent solicitors, Tucker said.
Tucker said she and her staff seek to fulfill request expeditiously.
“We try to be flexible,” she said. “We try to do those as quickly as we can.”
However, there is a mandatory monthly statistics report due to the Department of Justice. Tucker said the monthly report is due 10 days after the first of the month, giving her one last chance to review the numbers before being sent off.
On average, Tulare police takes 300 Part I crimes reports monthly. Part I crimes include homicide, sexual assault, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.
Depending on what kind they are, reports can including booking forms, restraining order and lengthy incident narrative. All components must be included.
Besides the monthly report to DOJ, Tulare police’s record division is also audited by state officials, depending on auditors’ availability, yearly.
Last year, Tulare police’s record division was audited.
And while some division managers might dread a fine-tooth comb look at their work, Tucker says she enjoys the end result. An audit completed in April and looking at five elements rendered positive feedback for Tucker.
“That felt really good,” she said.