Alabama Law Enforcement Agencies are taking extra steps to ensure safety to crime victims. Officers and deputies are changing the way they submit their incidence-offense reports.
Police reports have a victim's personal information on the front sheet.
That front sheet is what is available to the public. That's the main thing some police say they want off in order to help protect victims.
Ozark's Deputy Chief Eddie Henderson says he's seen firsthand how personal information on a police report can harm a victim.
"We've had cases in which people got information from reports, and actually used it for identity theft and other crimes," Deputy Chief Henderson said.
That's one reason why Alabama is changing the look of police reports.
The reports have the victim’s name, their street address, date of birth and their Social Security number, all things which could lead to identity theft or danger of harassment from a suspect.
"It prohibits the suspect from getting the front page or a copy of a report, and the victim’s information where he could possibly contact the victim and harass the victim. This in itself is more to protective of victims," said Deputy Chief Henderson.
Another reason for the new look. This will help link local law enforcement with federal law enforcement.
"In order to do analysis and crime reports, in order to do grant and funding issues, if we're all on the same sheet of music, it makes it easier," said Cpt. Nick Monday of Dothan Police.
There will be other items different on the public portion of the report.
Police and deputies will include information such as the demographics of the victim and if it was related to domestic violence, gang activity or a hate crime.
There could be a way to get the information of a victim. It would be up to the chief law enforcement officer of the jurisdiction to release it to the public. That would be done on a case by case basis.
The new reports are set become effective in all law enforcement agencies by January 2008.