Please remember that this map is in a beta, pilot status and is subject to change.
Here are some frequently asked questions about our Calls for Service Interactive Map.
Why aren't the specific locations and street addresses shown on the map?
The exact geographic location of the call is not provided to ensure the confidentiality of possible crime victims. The exact location of the call is contained within the radius of the call's circle.
If a call for service results in a police report being taken or an arrest being made, the exact geographic location will appear on our Police Report Log, which is published online every business day. Reports of a specific type that receives confidentiality protections under state law (for example, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and so forth) will not include a specific street address. Note: As of October 31, 2022, the production of the Police Report Log is occurring on a weekly basis, not every business day. This is a TEMPORARY change that is necessitated by a significant staffing shortage in our Records Unit.
Why is there a delay before calls for service are displayed on the map?
The call for service appears on the map after the incident is "closed" (that is, once officers are no longer on scene). The call for service will remain visible on the map for 24 hours.
The purpose of the Calls for Service Interactive Map is not to provide a map of where our personnel are located in real-time; rather, the purpose is to provide a basic snapshot of the types of calls to which our officers have responded in the past 24 hours.
I see police cars at a certain location, but there is no information on the map for that location. Why?
If you are observing police cars that have responded to a call for service, that call is a new one that has recently been received or an active one that our personnel are still investigating. It will appear on the map after the incident is "closed" (that is, once officers are no longer on scene), and remain visible on the map for 24 hours.
If you are observing police cars that have conducted self-initiated activity (for example, a traffic enforcement stop), that activity will not appear on the map. The map only shows calls for service from our community.
There sure are a lot of calls. I thought Palo Alto was a safe city!
Palo Alto is a very safe city! Remember that this map displays calls for service, not actual crimes: this is a very important distinction. Not every call for service is a crime; in fact, the vast majority of calls for service do not even result in a police report because the incident investigated winds up not being criminal in nature. To view our police report log, which lists all of the crime reports our officers take, see our Police Report Log page. It is updated every business day.
I see an interesting call near my house and want more information about it. What should I do?
The only information provided by the Calls for Service Interactive Map is the call time, the call type, the call type description, the subtype and the subtype description. To learn about other sources of public information we readily provide online, please expand the "For More Information..." accordion above and follow the links therein.
Our 24-hour dispatch center does not release information on calls for service that you may see on the map. If an ongoing threat to public safety exists, the Police Department has several means of providing relevant and timely notifications to impacted members of the community. Please do not tie up phone lines by calling our 24-hour dispatch center or 9-1-1 to seek additional information from what appears on the map.
I see a call that seems like it needed a proactive public notification or alert. Why didn’t you do one?
The Police Department has a long-standing commitment of providing alert notifications to our community when warranted. With that said, please resist the urge to think that a particular call may merit an alert based solely on the name of the call type alone. Please trust our personnel, and know that they have a number of alerting options to keep our community safe when necessary. They always strive to make the right decision on how or if a public notification is warranted based on the circumstances unique to each incident.
That could mean that our officers knock on doors of neighboring homes, that our dispatchers proactively call into affected homes to notify them of something happening nearby, or that our personnel use some or all of our public alerting tools as appropriate for the situation. Fortunately, since Palo Alto is a very safe city, real-time community-wide notifications of crimes in progress are rarely necessary to protect public safety.
What other police departments are providing a Calls for Service Interactive Map?
Very few, if any, police departments in the Bay Area provide the same amount of information on calls for service as we are providing here on the Calls for Service Interactive Map. While many police departments provide a police report log or arrest log (which we also do, and have done for years), they stop short of providing information on as many calls for service on a rolling, 24-hour basis like we are doing. For more information on what constitutes a call for service and how it differs from a report or an arrest, please expand the "What is a Call for Service?" accordion above.
Is there any information that is NOT displayed on the Calls for Service Interactive Map?
The map shows calls for service from our community. There are only a small handful of our more than 450 call types and subtypes that are not displayed on the Calls for Service Interactive Map. Those few call types that are not displayed are self-initiated police activity (vehicle stops, pedestrian stops, search warrants, stakeouts, arrest warrant service attempts, etc.), have potential for revealing a vulnerable target (patrol checks), or pertain to the safety of our officers (personnel and staffing information).
Why did you make this new online platform available?
This map was produced in response to the City's Race and Equity community conversations and related City Council priorities, and developed after the California Department of Justice provided guidance to law enforcement agencies on measures they should take to protect personal identifying information of community members. The map also ties to the Police Department's long-standing commitments to accountability and enhancing community awareness. For more information on how our personnel are held accountable to our community, visit the Accountability page of our website
I'm a member of the media and want more information on a particular call for service. What should I do?
As always, members of the media are welcome to complete our short online Media Inquiry Form at www.cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDmedia. One of our patrol Watch Commanders will respond to you as their time allows.
I have suggestions about how to improve the map or the data it contains.
We welcome your feedback. Please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.