North Charleston Police withdraws from reporting system designed to free up dispatchers for 911 calls

North Charleston Police withdraws from reporting system designed to free up dispatchers for 911 calls
The Charleston County Dispatch Center launched the system in November to provide real-time crime scene information to newsrooms so that dispatchers could be freed up to answer 911 calls. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The North Charleston Police Department confirmed Thursday it had pulled out from an incident reporting system the Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center launched in November.

The system lists active law enforcement calls by agency and with a brief description of the type of incident being investigated. The idea behind the system was to reduce the number of calls from media outlets going to the dispatchers so they could more quickly respond to emergency calls.

Since the system began operating, newsrooms were able to monitor active crime scenes and contact public information officers to inquire about incidents that might warrant coverage. They can also mobilize crews and get them to the scene, in some cases, before public information officers are able to respond with specific details about the nature of the incident being investigated.

North Charleston withdrew from the system this week, meaning that incidents in which the North Charleston Police Department serve as lead agency no longer appear on the site’s table.

On Thursday, when police responded to a suspicious package, that incident did not appear on the listing because the agency had already requested that its listings be removed. When newsrooms began receiving tips about the incident, reported in the 7100 block of Bryhawke Circle, dispatchers, who had previously been able to provide preliminary information, said they were no longer allowed to provide any details about NCPD calls.

Police spokesperson Karley Ash released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

In efforts to improve the accuracy of officially distributed information, the North Charleston Police Department discontinued participation in the Charleston County Dispatch Centers Allastar system yesterday.

Accuracy in officially distributed statements is important for community safety. The raw dispatch information processed by the CDC includes real-time, uncoordinated reports which, by the nature calls to dispatch, may at times be incomplete, contradictory or lacking necessary context. Distribution of such information through external government channels undermines public confidence and may lead to false alarms. The City believes the public is better served if it monitors its officially distributed statements to information in which the public may be confident.

Please note that the media’s access to the underlying information going into Allastar remains. For years media has informally monitored police frequencies. Media will continue in this traditional fashion to obtain the underlying information, but this unverified information will not be officially distributed by the City since such distribution could be viewed as endorsement.

Before the system began operating in November, media outlets would have to call Charleston County dispatchers to request information on calls.

The information provided by dispatchers is often preliminary based on initial information received from 911 calls, which may or may not prove to be completely accurate information.

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