HPD aims to be more transparent to the public

HARLINGEN — Have you ever wondered what kind of calls police respond to every day?

Are they burglaries, domestic disputes, a reckless driver or just loud music?

Well, now you can find out as the Harlingen Police Department is being more transparent with that information.

The department is posting more reports on its website, where you can now find out what kinds of crime are being reported, how many car accidents we have and why motorists are being pulled over.

HPD is one of four police agencies in the state that are elevating their level of transparency. That means increasing the public’s access to police information.

By joining the White House National Police Data Initiative program, HPD becomes the first department in the Rio Grande Valley to do so.

In 2014, President Obama launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to identify the best means to provide effective collaboration between law enforcement and local communities that reduces crime and increases trust.

Then in May of 2015, the White House and the Department of Justice launched the Police Data Initiative.

It is a program that includes leading law enforcement agencies across the country committed to improving the relationship between citizens and police. The idea is to increase the public’s access to information, which increases transparency, builds community trust and strengthens accountability.

HPD joins about 53 cities nationwide in this effort.

During the past several months, Officer Larry Moore has compiled the information that is already on HPD’s website.

There, residents can see the number of calls for service and data on crashes and traffics stops, the first of many reports to be made available to the public.

All three of these reports include information from January 2016 through August. They will be updated by Moore on a monthly basis for the public to view.

“It gives you a good idea of what the department deals with on a daily basis,” Moore said.

According to the reports, there were more than 33,000 calls for service during that period. The calls are related to ongoing crime, including burglaries, domestic disturbances, welfare checks, alarm activations, auto accidents, suspicious persons and many more.

By joining PDI, the department’s open data will improve transparency, accountability and legitimacy, helping to enhance the relationship between the police department and the community.

The HPD Crime Fusion Center is an analytical division within the department that will compile several data sets to be posted on the city’s website.

As time goes by, Moore said he will add to these reports every month. In the future, he hopes to add several more reports, including officer use of force.

Moore said this report will detail where, when and why officers applied use of force whether it be during a scuffle or using a Taser.

For now, residents can see the current three reports already posted.

According to the crash data, there have been more than 1,700 auto collisions since January. They, like calls for service, differ in severity from minor accidents to auto pedestrian.

This report goes into greater detail, giving the reader the location of the accident and its coordinates, Moore said.

According to the last report, there have been more than 8,000 traffic stops. The report details include the officer’s name, speed, violation and weather conditions.

“I am very proud of the work of the men and women leaders both sworn and civilian of Harlingen Police Department as they begin a national partnership with The White House and the Department of Justice- Office of Community Policing, to develop and bring best national practices to the Rio Grande Valley and the citizens of Harlingen we serve every day,” said Chief Jeffry Adickes.