For more than a decade, the Colorado Springs Police Department posted its annual transparency report online for anyone to view. The data included information on homicides and various crime statistics. Last year, News 5 Investigates discovered the police department stopped posting those reports online.
In August 2017, Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross asked a Colorado Springs police spokesperson for a copy of the 2016 report.
“The Colorado Springs Police Department will no longer complete annual reports after 2015,” Sgt. John Garza said.
News 5 then asked whether there was a reason CSPD stopped compiling and publishing this data.
Garza did not respond.
A few days later, News 5 Investigates sent Chief Pete Carey an email asking why the department stopped publishing this report.
Chief Carey ignored our inquiry, but another officer with the department did answer our question.
“The Chief, after discussion with his staff, decided the department would develop a section of our web page that would provide all the information found in an annual report but in a more user friendly manner,” a CSPD sergeant said. “Regretfully, we do not have the site up and running at this time and do not have a timeline when it will be completed.”
Essentially, the department has chosen to be “less transparent” with the promise of being “more transparent” by launching a website at an unknown date.
Department Spokesperson Lt. Howard Black told other media outlets the report was scrapped as a “cost and time-saving measure” that apparently took a lot of staff time to compile.
While certain crime data can still be accessed through the FBI and CBI, certain requests such as “calls for service” and information regarding lower-level crimes must be obtained through the police department records unit.
For example, On Dec. 6, 2017, News 5 asked for police call logs related to Massage Envy locations in Colorado Springs. Our inquiry was sent as part of a recent nationwide scandal in which nearly 200 women accused Massage Envy therapists of groping and other inappropriate sexual acts.
KOAA 5 requested call logs because they would potentially show other crime trends such as burglaries or assaults.
“We don’t have the staff or time for fishing expeditions,” Lt. Black said.
CSPD did provide News 5 with the requested statistics a day after we filed the request, but we were curious to know why the records unit appears to be overburdened with inquiries.
Would compiling an annual transparency report result in less records requests? It’s a question we won’t know until the new web site rolls out.
According to the city’s 2018 salary schedule, a position titled “police records manager” pays a minimum annual salary of $86,470. The median “market average” salary range is $103,805 with a maximum annual salary set at more than $121,000.
It’s unclear who occupies this position, but when News 5 Investigates asked Lt. Black who the records custodian is for the police department, he replied, “I am.”
“We do have limited resources and hundreds of requests each month,” Lt. Black explained via email.