Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Website Back, but Altered; Only the Dispatched Calls That Were Completed Will Appear to the Public

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Website Back, but Altered; Only the Dispatched Calls That Were Completed Will Appear to the Public

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler

A public website that kept a running tally of dispatched calls for service involving Jacksonville police has been restored after being shut down about six weeks ago to be reviewed for any officer safety issues.

The difference between the original page and now: Where once a viewer could see within 30 minutes when an officer was dispatched and later learn when the call is completed, only dispatched calls that are completed will appear.

The callsforservice.jaxsheriff.org website was established last summer as a way to provide information to the public along with a free AudioTraffic application that still gives real-time traffic and major incident updates on smartphones. The app can be found at audiotrafficapp.com or on the Apple AppStore and Googleplay on Android phones.

The calls for service page provides dispatches on everything from traffic accidents to death investigations. It includes the incident number, dispatch time, street and block number of the call and a call description, but no specifics of what occurred.

Sheriff John Rutherford's special assistant, Lauri-Ellen Smith, halted the service after in-house discussions about concerns for officer safety in light of recent attacks on police officers nationally, coupled with a request by the National Sheriffs' Association to remove police tracking components of such software.

Smith indicated at the time that Sheriff's Office administrators would continue to review the site for its value in informing the public of police activity as well as the impact it has on officer safety.

Smith released this statement Wednesday afternoon about the decision to reinstate the page with the new twist:

"Although our web page never allowed for user input, and to our knowledge no officer or case being worked here was compromised by this information being published, it did create a potential challenge for officers who were just arriving on the scene of calls, as well as for citizens who may come into harm's way in an active call involving violence or weapons. …

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