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Baltimore Police now posting 911 calls online

The Baltimore Police Department is now posting 911 calls online as part of a transparency effort, according to Commissioner Kevin Davis, who announced the change Friday at a news conference.

The data will include the call date and time, reason, block location, priority and police district. The calls will be posted to the city's "Open Baltimore" website at data.baltimorecity.gov. The data will not include names or exact addresses to protect the caller's privacy.

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City Councilman Brandon Scott initially proposed posting active 911 data in 2012 as a way to modernize government information systems and inform residents about the police department.

"If you go to a community meeting, the first thing you are going to hear is 'Hey, I called 911 and I had to wait X amount of time before an officer came," Scott said Friday at the news conference.

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One of the major complaints of Baltimore residents in the wake of Freddie Gray's arrest and subsequent death in April has been long response times to 911 calls.

The dataset will not show response times, but it will show the priority of residents' calls and they will be able to see all the other calls in the neighborhood at the time.

"Folks think they call 911 and it goes into some black hole, but now, they can see where it goes," Scott said.

Officials also hope that residents might look at the data and see if their 911 calls might be more appropriate for the 311 non-emergency services line, thus freeing up time for officers to respond to more serious matters.

Davis said the police department is also considering releasing data on "use of force" incidents and is investigating how to do so while respecting existing laws and due process of police officers. Ultimately, Davis said, such a release "benefits the community and vast majority of police officers who come to work and do the right thing."

The Open Baltimore website also includes information about calls to the 311 non-emergency services line, arrests and data such as city employee salaries.

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