BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) When Todd Foreman became Chief of the Bedford Police Department 18 months ago, he made building trust with the community one of his top priorities.
"As we build trust, we build partnerships and people are more willing to work with us," Foreman told WDBJ7.
Foreman says one of the best ways to build trust is by sharing information about the police department's daily activities.
That's something The White House is already trying to do. Last year it launched the Police Data Initiative, a national effort to collect statistics about crime and police interactions.
The information is being publicized in an online database.
"If they can look at why were doing things and ask questions about it, it gives (the public) an opportunity to learn why we're doing things and understand it a little better," Foreman said.
The Bedford and Danville police departments are among 53 agencies that are taking part in the White House initiative.
Right now Bedford has statistics online about the officers on its force. People can log on and see when each officer was hired, along with their gender, age, and education.
"We're opening our data up and breaking down walls," said Christie Crouch, network & systems technician for the town of Bedford.
Basic information is now available about crimes committed in Bedford and the number of arrests made recently.
Foreman says the database will slowly get deeper as officers input more information. He hopes the public will access the data frequently and look for ways to help the police department.
"We can all work together to have a better quality of life and a safer life in our communities," Foreman said.
In the midst of making all this data available, Foreman says his department is also working hard to maintain privacy. Names of the suspects, victims, and individual officers involved in crimes will not be published in the database.