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Milpitas police launch transparency website

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Milpitas residents can review police data on crimes and other incidents with the launch of a new digital dashboard.

The city’s police information dashboard came online Friday. It houses crime data, the department’s annual reports and officer misconduct information. Residents can also use the website to learn more about the department’s policies and demographics.

“I didn’t just want a checkbox. We’re not just going to do this because it looks good,” Police Chief Jared Hernandez told San José Spotlight. “We wanted to create something that was functional and useful for the community.”

Incident data is organized on interactive dashboards with information going back to January 2023. On the site’s landing page, general information like the annual number of arrests or citations are presented in static graphs and will be updated by the department at least twice every year.

If someone wants to see information from earlier than 2023, they would have to look at the Milpitas Police Department’s 2022 annual report, which has limited information on a handful of crimes from 2018 to 2022. Hernandez said the department began compiling these reports in 2023, but he asked for one to be compiled on 2022 to compare data trends.

Hernandez said the department began working on the dashboard in response to nationwide pushes for police accountability, and that he finds it important to provide more transparency to residents. Work began on the dashboard in 2022, but was delayed when the department lost its crime analyst. It picked back up in mid-2023.

He added the department values its interactivity with Milpitas residents, so he wanted to ensure the data is accessible in easy to understand formats, and that the department welcomes feedback.

“If there’s an idea on how we can improve, we want to hear it, and if it makes sense, we’ll implement it,” Hernandez said.

Cities have been trying to improve policing and police accountability for years, following the 2020 protests after the police killing of George Floyd. In 2022, San Jose launched a data portal specifically for police misconduct records, in accordance with Senate Bill 1421, enacted in 2018. The city has been working to add more oversight to the department in light of rising complaints. San Jose has its own data center, where it publishes crime statistics, use of force incidents and other information.

Prior to the annual reports and this data dashboard, Hernandez said the department did not proactively provide data unless members of the public requested records. Crime statistics were also available through a third-party platform, but he did not have other specific details, because the service was discontinued after the department switched records management systems.

Milpitas said in a statement this shows the department’s dedication to building trust and transparency with the community. Councilmember Hon Lien told San José Spotlight building that trust strengthens the partnership between the city and its residents.

“I hope that the community will take advantage of the transparency portal to follow what the city of Milpitas is doing as much as just the police department itself,” she said.

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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