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Oceanside Police Department launches website showing what calls officers are handling, crime statistics

The Oceanside Police Department has launched a website that shows what calls officers are handling as well as crime statistics for the North County city.

The page, called FirstWatch, displays basic information about active and recent calls for service including the kind of incident and where and when it happened. The page also contains charts with call type totals — like the number of reported assaults or thefts — and a map that shows where each incident was reported.

FirstWatch can be found on the department’s website.

The department said Wednesday that the website was paid for with funds from Measure X — a ballot initiative passed in November 2018 that raised Oceanside’s sales tax a half cent for seven years. Officials couldn’t immediately say how much it cost to put the new website together.

“A top priority for the Oceanside Police Department is the transparency of our policies, practices, and training,” the department said in a statement. “We believe that openness speaks to the integrity of this agency and builds on the trust and collaborative efforts we make in partnership with our community to combat crime.”

Other local agencies, like the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, have created similar websites, but often after choosing to encrypt their radio traffic.

Oceanside officials said Wednesday that their radio traffic is not encrypted and they have no immediate plans to do so.

A wave of departments statewide switched to encrypted channels after the California Department of Justice directed law enforcement agencies in 2020 to do a better job at protecting personal information, like names and birth dates, which are sometimes broadcast over police radios.

The public has long had access to real-time information about police activity through scanners and online applications. Critics say encrypting those channels limits transparency in day-to-day public safety and policing matters.

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