Police cadets help clear city backlog

January 28, 2004|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A class of Baltimore police trainees will be hitting the streets three weeks behind schedule because they are helping department officials eliminate a backlog of 14,000 reports that need to be entered into a computer database.

The 46 trainees have been working in 24-hour shifts since Jan. 12 to clear the backlog, which stood at 31,000 reports when the cadets started their data-entry duty. The future officers should be finished by Feb. 8, police officials said.

The backlog stems mostly from reports of minor incidents and crimes - known as Part II offenses, which are not reported to the FBI for inclusion in its annual crime report, according to police officials.

Nearly all the reports of more serious crimes - known as Part I offenses, which include murder, rape, robbery, assault and burglary - have been entered into the agency's computers, the officials said.

The department began taking steps last month to eliminate the backlog by assigning the data entry of reports to a squad of police officers working in the downtown headquarters building, officials said.

Previously, officers in the city's nine police districts entered reports into the system but had trouble keeping up with the flow of cases.

Officials said the new system would prevent future backlogs and allow the department to quickly track nuisances and minor offenses and potentially link them to more serious crimes.

"We can run everything on a daily basis now," said Lt. Tom Cassella of the information management and planning unit. "Before, we were always playing catch-up."

City Police Spokesman Matt Jablow said the department has experienced a backlog of such cases for the past several years, although he said the current situation was "slightly worse" than before.

From Jan. 1 through Nov. 30 last year, officers wrote 211,000 reports on a wide range of incidents.

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