Think about it.
Twenty police officers in squad cars or thousands of aware residents across the community?
Who would you bet on to recognize, find, and report the locations of creepy clowns, kidnappers, armed robbers at large, burglars at large, or even terrorists at large?
In Arlington Heights, there were recently four instances of citizens reporting incidents involving clown sightings. In all four reported incidents, police responded, police searched the area, and no suspicious suspects were found. The suspicious persons slipped away. Also, the police on patrol didn’t spot them. Normal, everyday citizens spotted them.
CREEPY CLOWN REPORTS
The first incident occurred in the area of Northwest Highway and Dunton Avenue. A male was seen riding a bicycle wearing a clown mask. The area was searched; however the male was not located. There were no additional calls regarding this incident.
The second incident occurred in the area of Carefree Park, 1231 South Belmont Avenue. The caller reported seeing a suspicious person/vehicle and thought it might be related to the suspicious clown sightings. The caller did not actually see a clown, but saw a male in a white jumpsuit go into the wooded area near the park. The area was searched for this individual, but the person was not located by police. There were no additional calls regarding this incident.
The third incident occurred at Westgate Park, 211 North Reuter. The caller reported seeing a person wearing a clown mask exit the park. The area was searched, however, this person, was not located. There were no additional calls regarding this incident.
The fourth incident occurred in the 1500 block of West Vine Street, the caller reported seeing a person wearing a clown mask in the neighborhood. The area was searched; however, the person was not located. There were no additional calls regarding this incident.
The Arlington Heights Police Department did not release the time or dates when these incidents were reported. They didn’t mention whether the incidents occurred when it was dark out, if it was at lunchtime, or after school or around midnight. No details.
The Arlington Heights Police Department wants people to report any suspicious person or activity, but warns people not to approach the suspicious person. Police want you to call 9-1-1 immediately to have officers respond and investigate. Police want details from us, but they don’t give out enough of the details that help us protect ourselves … or details that help us help them.
Weekly, the Arlington Heights Police Department does a good job of reporting property crimes, but the alerts are usually 12 to 24 to 48 hours after the fact. Rarely, the alerts are 3 to 6 hours after the crime.
Also, the police rarely report suspicious persons, or armed robberies, or other major crime incidents in real-time, as many other police departments do nationwide. In fact none of the police departments in the Northwest Central Dispatch System report in real time — that includes communities from Buffalo Grove to Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Streamwood … and Palatine and Rolling Meadows to Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Elk Grove Village. Many police departments nationwide believe it is an important part of community policing and transparency to keep the public informed of criminal activity in real time, but many in Cook County, are very tight-lipped.
Northwest suburban police departments in Cook County are non-live or non-real-time public police communicators. The police departments use protected radio communications, which prevent the media and neighborhood watch groups from knowing anything. They do not publish dispatch calls, as some departments do in real time. They do not use Facebook or Twitter to post real-time or near real-time alerts, as some departments do nationwide.
The ideal public police dispatch is live, which is riskier for the criminals, who fear the eyes of an alert public. There is a vast virtual army of good citizens that can spot a suspicious person, update their location and direction of travel. A citizen or an off-duty police officer that can hear a live police dispatch can put an eyeball on an offender, or at least be aware that crime is happening real-time, and take extra precautions, get a clear vehicle description or note a detailed suspect description.
Hundreds of Facebook pages or Twitter accounts nationwide are dedicated to posting public-enabled police radio dispatches, which can alert tens of thousand of subscribers in seconds. In communities like Arlington Heights this can’t happen. You may see a few police cars with lights and sirens rushing up and down Arlington Heights Road, but you have no idea what is happening. You may be unnecessarily concerned, or you may have just crossed paths with an armed robber, a child kidnapper, or a murderer.
Hopefully, some day when a creepy clown, kidnapper, murderer, armed robber, or escaped convict from Cook County Courthouse is on the loose, the local police departments* will have optimized the risks and benefits of keeping the public informed in real-time for maximum public safety.
*Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg or Streamwood
NOTE: No criticism is intended toward the police officers on the street, who complete their assignments in compliance with the general orders of their departments, and who risk their lives and careers to actually apprehend the right people with the correct actions and correct of amount of force.
IMPORTANT ALERT …
Cardinal Note: As of June 5, 2013 — up to and including the date of this article — police incidents related to the above police agency are not reported in real time or within a prompt time period. Police protecting their realm of investigation and police activity, have chosen to use secret military-grade encrypted radios to withhold their police communications, which were previously open to the public and news media via monitoring of public safety scanning radios — with no known negative results locally.
The delayed knowledge or entirely blacked out knowledge resulting from encrypted police communications may protect certain police operations and investigations, but it also puts the public at risk in situations such as when armed and dangerous offenders are at large and when other similar situations occur, such as when desperate offenders of property crimes are eluding police. In other cases, the delayed or blacked out information inhibits or prohibits the possibility of the public providing early witness accounts before a criminal trail goes cold. Citizens are much more likely to recognize or recall suspicious or criminal activity if they are aware of the criminal incident within minutes or hours of its occurrence. The most serious incident involving dire results would be a trail that is allowed to go cold in the case of child abduction.
The lack of real time information from public police dispatch also weakens an effective neighborhood watch program mostly working to prevent property loss, but also working to prevent possible violent crimes.
Lack of real time information from police dispatch also delays public awareness or eliminates public awareness of general hazards and traffic or other situations in every day living in an otherwise economically thriving community.
Police have alternate ways to transmit tactical, operational or investigative information, while still keeping their main public dispatch channels open for the best balance of public safety and police safety.
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