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New policy on ‘crime log’ will open up more information to the public

By Charles Sercombe

Good news crime sleuths and crime busters.

The Hamtramck Police Department will soon open its daily crime reports to the public.

Just like the old days.

Except, not quite.

But at least the community can now access much more detailed information than the department has been releasing for the last several years.

City Manager Bill Cooper is presenting a plan to the city council at Tuesday’s council meeting that will open up the scope of information the police department records each day.

The expansion of the daily crime reports comes after City Councilmembers Cathie Gordon and Tom Jankowski pressured Cooper to make more information available.

They said other communities offer far more substantial information on what types of crimes happened each day.

Hamtramck has one of the most restrictive policies in the area on releasing daily crime information. The department pretty much limits the information to what kind of crime happened, where it happened and the day and time it happened.

Other communities name names, and are far more descriptive.

That wasn’t always the case here in Hamtramck.

The Police Department used to make available its daily crime log, complete with who did what to whom.

Why did that information get tightened up?

It happened several years ago – suddenly – when a former chief of police became concerned about disclosing information, especially for crimes under investigation, and was also uptight about citizen groups using the information to contact crime victims.

It now appears the only information that will be withheld is the name of alleged victims, Cooper said.

Cooper said he researched how much information can be made open to the public and found out that under Michigan law, quite a lot can be disclosed.

The new policy, Cooper said, “is going to say we can release the vast majority of information.”

The policy will require the city council to agree to it.

Councilmember Jankowski said more detailed crime logs will help investigators.

“The more information the public has, the more the public can be involved,” Jankowski said.

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