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Good Sam crime reporter meets online barrier

The city of Durango online form for filing a lost/stolen property or graffiti report – before Action Line got involved. There’s no red asterisk for SSN anymore. (Courtesy screen shot)

Dear Action Line: I was instructed to report instances of graffiti in Durango through an online form. So I did. However, the form has some “required fields.” These include race, ethnicity, gender, birth date and, astonishingly, my Social Security number. Why is this necessary to have very personal data to report an act of vandalism? What if this site gets hacked? And for “ethnicity,” there is no choice for “American.” But it does list Canadian and Mexican, as well as Russian and Turkish. Makes me not want to report anything. – Law N. Order

Dear Law N.: Hmm. This does seem overly intrusive. Action Line was at first in disbelief at the Big Brother-type of reality this suggested we’re now living under. Some of us don’t like to give our first names if we don’t have to, and that’s the first required field on the form.

It’s the form anyone who goes to durangogov.org to file an incident report will find. At the top of the city site’s home screen you’ll see “How Do I … ?” Hover over that, then click on “Report Lost/Stolen Property or Graffiti.” On the next screen, click on “Report Incident.” That takes you to the site, secure.coplogic.com.

A couple more clicks takes you to the report form, which for starters requires name, address, email, phone. OK so far. Then come the other required fields that make many of us squeamish. Who’s taking this information, how secure is it and how do they use it? Action Line contacted the Durango Police Department to see what’s up.

Kudos to the DPD: In the time between Action Line’s contact and a return call, the department had already removed Social Security number as a required field.

“We understand people’s concerns with the ID theft that is going on,” said Durango Police Cmdr. Jacob Dunlop. He said the department wants to remove any barriers to citizens reporting a crime. He also noted that taking this information is generally standard when police are helping a victim of crime.

The coplogic.com site is a third-party vendor. Durango Police can control various parts of it, and was able to remove SSN as a mandatory field. The other fields remain mandatory. Dunlop said coplogic.com is coordinated with LexisNexis, and Action Line isn’t certain whether that makes everyone feel better or not, but that’s the scoop.

Dear Action Line: The Durango Herald used to print the results of San Juan Basin Public Health inspections. With restaurants returning to normal, will the Herald restart its inspection lists, or has there been pressure put on them by advertisers? – Hungry in Three Springs

Dear Hungry: Can’t you just hear the collective groans from restaurant owners and food vendors around Southwest Colorado, who were so thrilled to be expanding inside seating and getting back to full capacity, and now realizing that food inspectors might also be barging back in?

Inspectors took a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, conducting only “virtual inspections,” said Chandler Griffin, communications director for San Juan Basin Public Health. That meant checking in with establishments, but not posting the results.

The virtual checks are “rather different from a traditional inspection and don’t follow the same format,” Griffin said.

Indeed, Griffin said, restaurant inspections will resume this coming week, so get those refrigerators below 41 degrees, throw out the old moldy potato salad and wash those hands.

But Action Line sees this as a good thing, and hopefully most restaurateurs do as well. In the end, the purpose is to promote food-handling knowledge and safety. It should give the public a feeling of confidence in their food providers.

As far as the Herald, alas, it discontinued publishing restaurant inspections in February 2020 for non-pandemic reasons. What Herald editors tell Action Line is that the health department altered its restaurant reports, making them too time-consuming to transfer into a usable document for the newspaper or online.

Meanwhile, the health department publishes the inspections on its website, https://sjbpublichealth.org/foodsafety (click the “food inspection” tab), but stopped in March 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. The online reports provide no details of specific violations, just number of violations and the number corrected onsite. To get the full report, you must fill out an open records request.

Readers who are no longer concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic or the possibility of contracting food-borne illnesses can rest assured there are other things to worry about. Like, “Is someone trying to hack my credit card?” or even, “What’s the deal with those UFOs buzzing around off our coastlines?”

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Hey, if “60 Minutes” is doing segments on UFOs, there’s gotta be something to it, right?