So as y'all know, I love me some crime stories. I love breaking news. I love courts. I really love cops reporting. People do some crazy stuff in Chapel Hill.
So I'm pretty excited to be finding and compiling crime reports as my public records for Washington, N.C.
So the natural place to start is the department's website. I was greeted by this friendly Eastern-N.C. face as I log on. Oh hey Mick Reed, I think you can I could be friends!
My first question in what I need to get to be used for journalistic data: What's already there?
I don't see any reports, any blotter, any crime maps, nothing fun like that. What's already there? An address (201 West Third St.) and a communications officer. Great. I thought in such a small town, I could at least avoid some public relations specialists. I should be so lucky. Well the PR hotline is 252.946.1444.
Next question: how does one go about getting crime reports? Sure, it's 1:21 a.m. right now, but they advertise that they're open 24 hours a day. So I call.
The only, only way to get them is to drive to Washington between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. A bit problematic from Chapel Hill.
It's a start, at least.
There are so many interesting fields on any given police report, it's hard to know where to start in terms of organizing them for data.