Just over a week after launching an online reporting system for certain crimes, Little Rock Police have recorded around 75 reports, which managers say have helped reduce stress on patrol officers and to allow them to focus on emergencies and crime prevention.
The system allows citizens to report 13 categories of offenses – including break and enter, criminal mischief, theft and harassing threats or communications – online using a computer or mobile phone .
Online reports are managed by staff in the Records and Support Division instead of staff in the Communications Division, said Major Heath Helton, chief of the Records and Support Division.
Of the reports approved or reviewed between the system’s launch on Oct. 20 and Thursday, most were reports of private property theft or accident, Helton said in an email.
A person who makes a report will receive an email when the submission has been approved by police, according to an informational video on the department’s Twitter account.
If a report is rejected, the person will receive an email indicating what the problem was, Helton said.
Sometimes officers may still need to respond. Reports involving lost or stolen guns, vehicles and license plates, as well as those in which more than $ 5,000 in property has been stolen or destroyed, should always be called, the reporting site notes.
Among the 13 options offered by the site is an information report on suspected criminal activity, but it notes that these reports may not be viewed for up to 48 hours and that these types of advice are filed “without waiting for contact or feedback”. “
Department staff are “extremely happy” with the system so far, Helton said. But Helton acknowledged that, like any new program or technology, the community response has been mixed so far.
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The online reporting system stems from the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, when the department began accepting some reports over the phone, Helton said. However, the sheer volume of calls overwhelmed the Telephone Reporting Unit, which is made up of civilian staff and cadets, leaving residents dissatisfied.
âCitizens became frustrated because a response was not always immediate, so we started to take a more serious look at the online reporting system,â Helton said.
After studying the systems used by agencies nationwide, the Little Rock Department found that one of the attractions of routing non-urgent crime reports through an online system was that it did not require not that an officer respond immediately, Helton said. This left agents free to focus on patrolling and saved citizens from having to wait for an agent to respond, he said.
One of the goals of the system was to improve response times for important calls, Helton said, although he did not say whether the agency had marked the improvement yet.
Ease of access for people filing reports was another major concern, and Helton believes people will appreciate the new reporting system.
“The more citizens use it, the more they will see that it is user-friendly,” he said.
The biggest problem so far has been making it known that the system is available to people, Helton said.
“Once citizens know they can do a simple report online, we think they will be very receptive to doing so because of the convenience offered by the system,” he said.
Experience in troubleshooting the department’s computer-aided dispatch systems and body cameras made implementation of the system easier, as staff knew what problems to expect. Most of the issues were minor and easy to fix, Helton said.
No new staff was needed to process the reports, with processing work simply moving from division to division, Helton said.
Helton has previously identified other types of reports that can be added to the online system, including burglaries, criminal intrusions, vacation home reports and additional patrol requests.
Additionally, Helton hopes to eventually enable people to file all traffic accident reports online and the department to even hire specialized traffic safety officers to deal with these reports, as traffic incidents are the task at hand. longer for patrol officers apart from arrests. .