Santiago releases crime document. Police director criticized for withholding reports

Santiago releases crime document
Police director criticized for withholding reports

November 23, 2006 The Times

TRENTON -- In a display of d├ętente, Police Director Joseph Santiago yesterday made public the department's daily crime report, an internal document generated each morning for department commanders that summa rizes major crimes from the prior 24 hours.

The release of the report followed a faxed request by The Times for detailed information from the police for the past day, as directed by Executive Order 69, the 1997 state order that requires timely release of information to the public, within a maximum of 24 hours from a request being received.

Santiago said he is contemplating releasing the report, or a modified version with sensitive information redacted, on a daily basis.

"It's what we look at every day," Santiago said.

The director insisted yesterday he has nothing to hide in his department, a day after sparks flew at a city council meeting over the public information issue, which was first raised in a Times news story Sunday.

The Sunday story and subse quent reports quoted Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Boc chini Jr.'s recent criticisms of San tiago over the police director's al leged violations of state public information law.

Bocchini said he intends to rec tify those issues at an upcoming meeting with Santiago.

At the council meeting, city officials defended the administration's public information policies, and Council President Paul Pintella scolded South Ward Councilman Jim Coston for making what he called inappropriate comments in a Times story the day before.

Coston suggested the council "amend" Santiago's salary for his not following Executive Order 69.

"The top cop in Trenton should be complying with the law," he said.

Coston defended himself by saying the comments were hypothetical.

Santiago also said yesterday that Sgt. Pedro Medina was officially back on duty as the department's main spokesman and would be available throughout the holiday weekend to respond to media requests.

He said his order on public information, which includes after hours and weekend protocols, is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the daily crime report, listed two robberies, three burglaries, two thefts and two motor-vehicle thefts, all of which occurred Tuesday.

Police arrested a juvenile for one of the robberies and a 39-year-old city woman for a shoplifting theft.

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