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Police Blotter Goes Offline Due to Staffing Shortage

You may have noticed that our Albany Police bulletin reports have become less frequent. Here's why.

Beginning in late August, the stopped posting its bulletin reports online. The reason, said Police Chief Mike McQuiston, is that the department no longer has the staffing available to handle the task at this time.

We asked for more information in August, and here's what McQuiston said:

Police will be retiring this month after nearly 30 years of service with the Albany Police Department. As you already know, Martha performs supervisory and records management duties and serves as a periodic dispatcher back-up. In addition, Martha has been instrumental in bridging existing gaps in our technology and services so that we are able to post our police bulletin (AKA Blotter) on our website. With her imminent departure I have authorized adjustments to temporarily spread some of her workload among the remaining support services staff. In doing so, some of the non-essential duties Martha used to perform will cease. I know that you rely on the bulletin posting to share information on the Albany Patch, so I am taking this opportunity to let you know that with Martha’s departure our staffing in the support services section of the police department has dropped to a level that forces me to choose between meeting our essential public safety mission and performing some of the additional duties of her position.

Without detailing the mechanics, logistics and legal mandates, I hope this helps explain to you why we will no longer be able to provide the bulletin. It is important to me to be able to provide this summary information on police activity to our community, but we simply do not have the staff to support this function at this time.  Please feel free to refer your readers to our site on www.crimereports.com for up to date information on select police activity. It doesn’t provide the same information as the bulletin, but it is the best alternative I can offer for the time being. I hope to resume sharing our daily bulletin electronically as soon as possible (and will try to implement a system that provides “block specific” information when we do). Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Albany Patch will continue to make every effort to collect and post . For now, it means a trip to the Police Department, taking photographs of the crime bulletin summaries that are available, converting them to PDF files and summarizing them for our report. 

We can also pull very basic information from crimereports.com, as noted above by Chief McQuiston. We'll do our best to post information as it becomes available. See our here. 

Because there's no longer a dedicated staffer who's able to handle the bulletin at the Police Department, thus far what's been available has been less frequently updated and, in some cases, incomplete. 

Fortunately, the Albany Police Department does tend to be available to answer questions and provide additional information about calls when we request it. We hope to hear more often from our readers when they notice something amiss in their neighborhood and out in the community. That will make requesting timely information about police calls somewhat easier. 

In addition to contacting the Police Department (510-525-7300) when you see suspicious activity in the neighborhood, we hope you'll reach out to Albany Patch via email, at albany@patch.com, and phone, at 510-459-8325.

James Simmons September 07, 2012 at 01:47 PM
To Tahiti: Considering the fact that they are the lowest paid Police Department in the Bay Area... probably not as much as you think. Another question to ask is how many positions have vacated at the PD within the last year? Volunteers cannot be used for deciding what information can be released, the employee must be held accountable and normally a supervisor, I would imagine.
Rona September 08, 2012 at 12:25 AM
James - No, but a volunteer "CAN" write down and provide the information from the police log or "be a blotter" when they are told they "CAN". That is what I meant. I am responding so no one else would think I meant "volunteers" can go around running amok in the Admin room at the Police station. Things "CAN" be done..I know, I'm a volunteer, and have been at many law offices and hospitals in various departments over my lifetime as well. You write, copy, print,and file, what you are told, and then keep it moving. Simple as that. Now if you have to "BE" an employed staffer to be a police blotter then oh well, that's on them. Simple as that.
James Simmons September 08, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Rona: I'm glad you volunteer, more people should. I volunteered my time for years to help a cause. I also believe that volunteers should be used more at the PD. Yes, volunteers could perform functions while someone decides what can be published. Unfortunately, the person who weeds through all the incidents and decides what can be legally published was the supervisor who just retired. Specially trained and accountable for everything. I used to hear a common phrase by volunteers, "so what are they going to do... Fire me"? The city would be liable for any inapropriate information released. No Rona, I would want a paid employee making that call if I were the city admin.
Alan Eckert September 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The blotter is heavily redacted according to the Chief of Police. You are correct about needing the special training and permissions (and motivation) that can be controlled best by a paid position.
Rona September 09, 2012 at 06:43 AM
Well in that case looks like Albany Patch is on their own with the Police Reports. James and Alan - thank you for your point and opinion. I do not hear "that" phrase though very often with volunteers. Or maybe that is because anyone with that attitude (in my situations) are very soon out the door with that attitude. God forbid, many volunteers ever having that attitude. But like you said, you have experienced that and very well could "explain" some circumstances and situations at facilities that use volunteers. I guess I am going on how "I perform" on the job with classified/sensitive information. Once again I was not clear. and it is very interesting to see another "side" of how people feel on where and when "volunteers" should be. Very interesting. (and I'm not being sarcastic..I really am like..oh okay..a different outlook..I get it..) C'est la vie, and end of discussion..well on my part and this discussion. I wish Albany Police the best in every area of there staff and departments.

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