(TNS) -- ROCKFORD — When the state takes an Illinois data portal offline sometime this year, Rockford residents won't be without the ability to check on crimes reported in their community.
Instead, city IT staff have helped the Rockford Police Department create its own police dispatch log, much like the state's existing record, showing 72 hours worth of some Rockford calls to the 911 dispatch center.
Police Chief Dan O'Shea said today that the state plans to take down its site at some point to upgrade it, but city officials didn't want access to Rockford data to be disrupted.
"And Lord knows with the state how long that would be (down). They wouldn't even give us an estimate," O'Shea said, adding that city officials were notified of the site's impending shutdown a couple of weeks ago. "We don't know when they're going to pull it offline. They said 'soon.'"
A news release issued late Friday afternoon says the government website will be "offline indefinitely." Rockford's site will be online Monday.
The Rockford Police Department is one of numerous state agencies and municipalities that use the state's online data portal to provide access to some public records. Rockford's 72-hour dispatch log shows the location, date and time of calls and generally what police agencies are being dispatched to handle them. The calls include telephone threats, 911 hang-ups, shootings, robberies, home invasions and building checks.
Other municipalities that have records there are Champaign and Midlothian. At the state level, entries include an Illinois State Police firearm transfer inquiry request record from 2002 through 2011, the Illinois Department of Public Health's list of migrant labor camps and the Illinois Department of Labor's amusement ride inspections for 2013.
"One of our main goals is to increase the amount of communication we're having with the residents," Mayor Tom McNamara said.
This dispatch log helps ensure that residents have accurate information, he said.
"We have to take accountability with the bad stats, just as we take accountability with the good stats. Often, when you're left to just Facebook chatter or (water) cooler chatter, you don't get the full story," McNamara said. "It's just allowing residents to have the information and allow them to make informed, educated decisions and have informed, educated discussions."
The Rockford Police Department dispatch log will have a link to it on the department's website at rockfordil.gov/city-departments/police.
"It's the same thing that's on the data portal right now," O'Shea said, adding that there is no cost for the city to create its own log because IT staff will simply take data already pushed to the state site and send it to the newly created city website.
This new 72-hour dispatch log will be updated hourly but won't include certain calls to the dispatch center. These include sexual assaults, child abductions, domestic situations and what is termed "sensitive juvenile offenses."
"We have to protect certain people's rights," O'Shea said, citing a victim's right to privacy.
O'Shea said he hopes the department can modernize its computer-aided dispatch system and records-management system, the latter of which must be updated by October 2018 because the software program no longer will be supportable. Once that's completed, the city could continue to provide the dispatch log through its updated system.
Although, "if the (state's) data portal comes back up" and the city's system meshes with it, "... we'll just provide people a link and they can watch it all day long."
To view the existing state site featuring Rockford's 72-hour dispatch log, go to data.illinois.gov/Public-Safety/Rockford-Police-Department-72-Hour-Dispatch-Call-L/9zru-nvxs.
The new dispatch log, launching Monday, will be accessible at rockfordil.gov/city-departments/police.
To check out other public records on the state's data portal, go to data.illinois.gov.
©2017 Rockford Register Star, Ill. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.