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There’s a reason you have to have press credentials to see the police blotter

I read Billy’s recent “free” post about how he was denied access to police reports. His post calls into question the police department’s restriction of this information to only those with press credentials.

I wanted to find out what the police department’s policy actually was, so I e-mailed Chief Settingsgaard. It turns out that, rather than an attempt to keep information away from people, it’s actually an attempt to make information available more quickly. The police reports include private personal information such as social security numbers and home phone numbers that can be (and should be) redacted. But rather than hold up those reports until they can be redacted, the police department makes them available immediately to the press, trusting that they will be responsible and “[maintain] appropriate discretion.”

In order to restrict this information to the media, one has to ask, “who are ‘the media’?” Traditionally, that moniker has belonged to the mainstream media, but these days there are a lot more freelance reporters. With news organizations downsizing, and the ease of starting new niche-print or online publication, there are a lot of journalists out there who don’t have traditional “press credentials.” Settingsgaard realizes this as well.

“Obviously the industry is changing and not all reporters are members of the mainstream media any longer so clearly we need to adapt so that persons like yourself and Bill Dennis are not excluded. In the short term I will ensure that access is opened immediately to Mr. Dennis and others like him whom we are familiar with. Long term I will be taking a close look at how to make the system better and either configure the reports so that anyone can view them or modernize our ‘press’ qualification.”

My thanks to Chief Settingsgaard for his quick response to and resolution of the matter.

And as for Billy: That will be $30, please.

39 comments to There’s a reason you have to have press credentials to see the police blotter

  • District Watcher

    I have found Settinsgaard to be consistently a stand-up guy. Thanks for this post, CJ. However, I find it concerning that confidential information is handed out to the press, credentials or not. Am I to assume now that if I’ve been charged with a crime Andy Kravetz might have my address, birth date and social security number? Not to pick on Andy, but I don’t care what kind of credentials he has. Journalists come and go, and I’m certain there isn’t a 100% honesty and integrity rating among them. It is my opinion that if they are handing out social security numbers and personal data to ANYONE, that has got to stop. Surely they’re aware of identity theft.

  • C.J. I was going to contact Chief Settingsgaard today, but you beat me to it. It’s a booger running a news site AND working a second job full time.

    After reading your post, I emailed him and thanked him for his consideration.

    Yeah, people off the streets probably shouldn’t be going over the police reports. How to reconcile that with the needs of journalists who have basically hung out their own shingle, I don’t know.

    And I’ll deduct your $30 from your subscription.:-)

  • Nice to see you two playing nice. District Watcher, I’ve met Andy, he’s a stand up guy, no worries.

  • Ranger Dace

    As someone who worked at the newspaper during the Settingsgaard era and read through those very police reports, let me call malarkey on assertion that “the police department makes [reports] available immediately to the press.”

    Routine reports were often filed late and significant crimes (i.e. news worthy ones) rarely showed up in the pile at all. I can’t recall seeing a single SSN on a report either. Most information was redacted or relegated to a supplemental report, which, conveniently, wasn’t made available unless you filed a FOIA request. Which you would receive days late after it had been heavily redacted. The censoring of the reports often seemed haphazard at times. Like a victim’s age being redacted but their birthday left visible. Go figure.

    Now, grant it, the delays i getting reports out were more likely due to an officer’s heavy workload rather than policeman skulduggery. But don’t pretend the information is flowing quickly and smoothly from the department to the media. Hell, they don’t even have a PIO anymore. (Yes, I realize cops can’t/shouldn’t blab about everything they do and see. So, save it.)

    Also, District Watcher, if you are charged with a crime, you want Andy Kravetz writing about it, seeing as he’s probably the best court reporter south of I-80.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    Years ago, when the Police Department had many more support staff, not to mention officers, I had to physically go to the station, be fingerprinted, checked out, in order to receive a press pass from the City. And that was around 1987, long before 9/11. These passes had expiration dates too, so sometimes you had to get them renewed. But a few years later and cutbacks kicked in, I got told the COP didn’t do them anymore…so we just made up our own here at PCCEO.

    Now, I’m not a fully trained journalist, but I know what questions to ask, what stories to cover that would be of interest to our niche viewers. I sometimes think that Public Access Cable TV was sort of the electronic version of blogging or citizen journalism before the idea of blogging was even conceived.

  • GOPer

    “Now, I’m not a fully trained journalist,”

    That is pretty evident given your obvious liberal bias in your reporting and commenting.

    “but I know what questions to ask, what stories to cover that would be of interest to our niche viewers.”

    Your niche being left wing wackos?

    This is a case in point. It is frightening to imagine that someone like Dennis in Peoria could walk into the Peoria Police Department and get confidential information about someone.

  • GOper; Is there ANY issue through which you do not look at through a partisan lens? I’m just curious.

  • GOPer

    Once the Marxist is out of the White House I’ll probably relax a little. Until then I’m trying to save the country.

  • checking for details

    GOper; Is there ANY issue through which you do not look at through a partisan lens? I’m just curious.

    ummm Billy are you the pot or the kettle on this one?

  • Lost~In~Peoria

    Ya, we can all relax when the Neo-Conservatives get back into office. We won’t have to worry about those evil socialists forcing us to pay for Health care, we’ll be too busy paying more wars and supporting the Empire.

  • Nice piece. Keep up the good work.

  • GOPer Save the country from what? The Birthers? I would like to relax but it’s hard when Bush or Cheney aren’t in jail for war crimes. Yep, just what we need. The Party that caused this country’s meltdown back in office. Tep Mitt will make sure none of us poor working people will ever have to pay for healthcare again. We simply can just die. And our sons and daughters getting a college degree? Under Mitt and your gang they can enlist in the Armed Forces and fight whatever war the GOP starts next for it’s own gains and if they live, maybe the GOP will let them claim their VA and GI benefits. Unless of course your party decides to cut those too while they are defending your off shore bank accounts. Yep, Vote GOP. We need another train wreck.

  • Karrie E. Alms

    Why would you social security number be found in a police report? Are they recruiting employees via police reports?

  • GOPer

    @Lost – Julia, is that you?

    @Emtronics – Blah, blah blah blah

  • checking for details.

    or Emtronics, perhaps people could get, what’s it called again..oh yeah, a job! instead of sucking off the public teet for generation after generation. Then try going to school, not to get into fights, text on your ‘bamma phone, but actually read and study, then there are things like academic scholarships for people who do well and even for people who work hard. How about putting down the weed, and banging every felon you can get to knock you up for more Link $. How about parenting your children, eforce a curfew and get their butts up for school. personal responsiblity has been lost and when the dems keep giving handouts under the assumption that if you simply give money to people then you do get what you want. A bankrupt city, state, and United states. Everyone is equal living in the same housing project…but wait, no one is left to pay taxes to fund the public housing, so who do you rob next?

  • GOPer

    “so who do you rob next?”

    They can always close post offices. Oh wait, they’re already doing that.

  • Yep get a job. That standard GOP mantra. Yes people live gen after gen off the government but that keeps the Republicans rich. Check out who owns those section 8 housing projects the government pays for. Like Manual Manor. Nope. No good Republican is going to let that cash cow go. There is money in keeping the poor, poor. And GOP, if it wasn’t for Bush and his 2006 Postal reform Act, the USPS would have made $400 million this year. It wasn’t designed to make money though but as long as there are decent wage earning jobs around where a person can buy a house, raise a family, the GOP will make sure they go away and you are paid minimum wage. Read up on what the GOP did to the Postal Service all so they could rob it’s funds for improvements, new trucks, more efficient facilities so they could pay for a war in Iraq. Had the politicians left the PO alone, it wouldn’t be a problem today and it takes NO TAXPAYER funds to operate. Thank you GOPer

  • merle widmer

    Emtronics, First I’ve heard that you had to be a Republican to be involved in the Democrat Section 8 scam. I can think of 3 Democrats, one who was heavily invested in Section 8 and a good friend of Democrat Andy Kravetz but was relocated out of Peoria because of the problems he was causing the company that employed him.

    I remember him well. He was my racist common-law marriage neighbor living with an ex-stripper; an ex who had put on too much weight in the wrong places.

    Another was a prominent Democrat Peoria County Board Member. Step right up and buy, buy, buy and collect Uncle Sam’s big giveaway bucks.

  • GOPer

    Emtronics you must think we have shit for brains. The post office is on its last legs because the only people that use it anymore mail shit that lasts 5 seconds between my mail box and the waste basket. Why would I send anything of importance via your nicotine stained mitts when I can sit naked in my basement, type a letter & send it off within one second for nuthin? Now go back to organizing your rolodex and vhs library.

  • Merle: never said GOP was the ONLY ones making money off the Section 8 scam. Of course there are Democrats and whatever. Basically the rich who can afford the investments.

    GOPer, I am positive you send things off naked in your basement. No doubt about it. If you can’t see past your keyboard the importance of maintaining the Postal Service in this country, then you are indeed an idiot.

  • And YES! I do think you have shit for brains

  • GOPer

    I know you are but what am I?

  • Chase Ingersoll

    I litigated this back in 1995 against the PPD / City and Judge Joe Vespa pointed out to the City Attorney that the law was very clear – “any citizen” had the right to see the police blotter. The media was not specified in the statute as having any sort of special privilege or right. I wanted to see where drug busts were taking place so that I could immediately sue the owners for the eviction of their tenants.

    Since these reports should be digitized anyway so that the police can have the benefit of cross referencing all of the individuals, address and information in the report, they should be able to generate a digitized form of the report online where the fields for locating names of victims, social security numbers, etc are not fields visible to the public or the media in the “electronic police blotter”.

    It is just pathetic that this is not already being done considering all of the readily available technology (and dirt cheap) that if used, would immediately reduce costs and improve the quality of policing and enable the public to see to a better degree, if the police are, or are not doing their job.

    Chase Ingersoll

  • Mama1

    Emtronics: Come on…’re going off the deep end. Calm down.

  • Mama1

    Checking for details: Right ON !!!!

  • GOPer

    Poor Emtronics has probably been admitted to the cardiac ER after his Herculean spinning efforts attributing the charges in this letter to Republicans. Dude you really should post anonymous to not continue embarrassing yourself.

  • GOPer, I am terribly sorry. I forgot your type doesn’t like facts and truths. And Mama, don’t you have a floor to clean or dishes to do? I can’t wait until the Republicans are reduced to janitorial work at the Capital building come November. Then maybe Limbaugh will retire, Hannity’s head will explode, and Nuggent said he’d kill himself. Ahhh, a much better world and nothing for GOPer to parrot from.

  • GOPer

    And Mama, don’t you have a floor to clean or dishes to do?

    Looks like the war on women is alive and well. Emtronics and Rush – peas in a pod.

  • checking for details.

    but as long as there are decent wage earning jobs around where a person can buy a house, raise a family, the GOP will make sure they go away and you are paid minimum wage.
    This makes absolutely no sense, you complain about the GOP wanting to cut taxes, now you are blaming the GOP for getting rid of jobs.

    Emtronics. Do you not pay attention to your own party’s practices? Dems want to raise taxes. If you have a decent job and can afford a home, then you should be paying more in taxes for those who don’t work at all. That’s how the dems say they are the party of the people. The house has passed a number of bills to promote job growth. The Senate won’t even vote on anything. The Senate fails to bring forth and/or approve a budget, instead wanting to simply do continuing resolutions, instead of a concrete budget. You constantly blame Bush for spending billions on a war, yet ingnore Obama spending trillions on jack. There is nothing to show from the nearly 1 trillion $ stimulous bill. That and Obamacare were passed when Dems ruled the world. Have you paid attention to health care premiums since that action. Have you noticed that small businesses are laying people off to try to meet the extra taxes and the premiums involved. And what about the increased debt when all the companies dump employees into the public system. How does that get paid? You will tax the wealthy. If you took every dime from every millionaire on up from them tomorrow, it wouldn’t make a dent in the deficit, do you get that? Then you become the “1%”, and they take everything from you. Guess what, it’s still not enough.
    pull out the calculator, count on your fingers and toes, do the math.

  • How many jobs have been created by the Bush tax cuts? None. Nobody is saying take everything from those 1%. People just want the 1% to pay their fair share. If you are rich enough, you can hide assets (legally) and monies and end up paying no taxes what so ever. The Stimulus worked and some of it was started by your man Bush. Nobody out spent Bush and his wars but that was OK then wasn’t it? If Obama hadn’t done something, we would have all ended up in soup lines including some of that 1%. Taxes are going to have to be raised. The Bush tax cuts cost this country billions. As for the war on women, yes mama may have dishes to do but I’ll never tell her what she can or can not have as far has her health goes be it birth control of whatever. This is all off topic of CJ’s original post and I will stop here as arguing with idiots tend to make you one. Have a wonderful day.

  • David P. Jordan

    Obama hadn’t done something, we would have all ended up in soup lines including some of that 1%

    Wow, Emtronics, you’ve become the posterboy for Kool-Aid drinking. Strange how this is related to accessing the Police blotter. 🙂

  • checking for details.

    Bush and his wars. wow, how quickly people forget 911. Clearly those people, dying at the hands of terrorists should not have been defended by this country. I am truly ashamed of you on this one.
    Obama has spend much more money than Bush ever could have. 1 trillion=1000 billions, so it is a bigger number, therefore more was spent.

    oh and you won’t have to worry about mamma and her birth control. As long as she’s scrubbing your floors and washing your dishes, she’ll be way too tired to get knocked up now won’t she. See, The GOP, get a job idea works doesn’t it.

  • checking for details.

    So now the story tonight is the amount that police make. WMBD reports some officers are making over $100 grand, citing over time and “other pay”. Other pay as I understood it includes time that they are ‘rented out” such as working at Kroger’s or certain events. The question that the media failed to ask was, who pays for that “other pay” My understanding is that if you want on off duty police officer, you still have to arrange it through the COP and that you are required to pay by the hour at a rate which includes salary and benefits, etc. If that is accurate, then the taxpayers are not funding that “other pay” and it is misleading at best to present that as a budget concern as identified by the city manager…..who by the way makes a cool 1/4 million plus benefits and bonues for firing staff to give the council more money to give to developers. Someone should run those numbers.

    Also included in the cop’s pay is court time. Essential to getting criminals off the streets. One can sit waiting for a court case for hours at times, hardly the officer’s fault. Additionally what wasn’t mentioned is the continued need for overtime from the current staffing levels of police officers. Crime certainly isn’t going down and the cops can’t even fill all the shift slots even with the over time. This is smoke and mirrors done by the city manager and the city council, preparing to cut cops again and place even more citizens at risk.

    I would much rather pay extra taxes for adequate police coverage than one red dime spend Spain and company’s developer buddies, or bleeding off funds for HP by Spain.

  • Sterling

    For the record, regarding the Post Office, I’ll refer concerned readers to check out Article 1, Section 8, line 7 of the Constitution.

  • GOPer

    Oh for crying out loud Sterling, familiarize yourself with the cut and paste options of your browser.

  • Sterling was referring to this: “The Congress shall have Power … To establish Post Offices and post Roads.”

  • Sterling

    Thanks CJ.

    When quoting the Constitution, I usually prefer to just list citations… I figure most of the people who supposedly know so much about the Constitution and what the federal government can and cannot do should already have a pretty good grasp on the document. It’s not terribly long anyway.

  • Forget about 9/11? Never. Bush and his wars? You bet. Bush was going into Iraq come hell or high water. 9/11 (happened under the Bush watch) was the perfect vehicle to dupe angry Americans into a war with Iraq over 9/11 and WMDs? Remember WMDs? Very few of the GOP seem to. Fact was, Iraq’s Saddam tried to have Bush I assassinated and the war with Iraq was to simply go after Saddam. Americans were duped and lied to. But wait! We still had 9/11 and a wanted Bin Laden, so Bush went half assed into Afghanistan. Both Bush’s wars.
    If Obama was the big Socialist President all you say he is, then when he was elected, he would have closed Gitmo, rescinded the Bush tax cuts, legalized pot, gun control, single payer heath care, stopped the war on drugs, pulled all troops out of Afghanistan, and turned Dick Cheney over to The Hague. He has done nothing but kept the tax cuts, what the Right wanted, under Obama we have more drilling than ever, what the Right wanted, (Remember Plain and drill baby drill?)he cut government size, what the tea party wanted, not Democrats, the Dow was at 7949 when Obama took office and now it’s over 12,000. Corporate profits are at an all time high. So if Obama is this evil loser Socialist person the Right makes him to be, then he is a lousy Socialist. So what it is? What makes the Right so pissed when they get up in the morning? Why do they so hate this President? Because he is black.

  • The last on-topic comment here was made on May 19 by Chase Ingersoll.