Department leaders say the map offers the public the most detailed information online of any police agency in the Bay Area.
"The map offers enhanced community awareness on police calls for service while protecting personal identifying information and was developed as a better alternative to monitoring police radio scanners," according to a department news release issued Monday.
Last year's sudden encryption of all radio communications followed a directive from the state Department of Justice, which gave cities the option of either fully encrypting or creating a system in which the personal information of individuals involved in the police calls would be relayed through a secure channel to protect privacy. Though the Department of Justice required cities to submit a plan for encryption by Dec. 31, 2020, it did not mandate a start date.
Palo Alto was among the first cities to switch to the full-encryption model, which other neighboring cities adopted as well. The move was criticized by police watchdogs and some City Council members for significantly reducing transparency in the police department.
City Manager Ed Shikada said during Monday's council meeting that the new map provides "near real-time information" on police responses to calls for service. The information, he said, is posted within an hour of the call. He called the new service "groundbreaking."
"This new online map has been eagerly anticipated by many of us for a while," Shikada said.
Chief Robert Jonsen called the map, which is in beta mode, "innovative."
TALK ABOUT IT
What's your opinion of the calls-for-service tracker debuted by the Palo Alto Police Department? Share your thoughts on Town Square, the community discussion forum at PaloAltoOnline.com/square.
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