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Beyond the Paper Chase

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 35 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2008 Pages: 58,60,62
Andrew Cartwright
Date Published
November 2008
4 pages
This article discusses the use of technology for reporting of incidents to police by citizens.
Online citizen police reporting is becoming increasingly popular across the country. So far, numbers indicate the system has been well received. An example provided is the Fremont Police Department in California, which takes 25 to 30 percent of its reports online and spends only minutes reviewing them before exporting approved reports directly into the records management system (RMS) without the need to transcribe. The author notes that alternative methods for responding to low priority calls have ranged from taking walk-in reports, mail-in reports, and staffing call centers, and while these methods have addressed the need of freeing up patrol officers from paperwork, they still require a significant amount of time and resources. Online citizen reporting systems are different than nearly every other product purchased, as they are one of the few products that law enforcement agencies purchase for citizen use. There are some basic factors provided by the author to consider before searching for an online citizen police reporting system. Any system to be purchased should have some basic requirements so users can fully benefit from it, such as interfacing to the RMS; multilingual support; taking supplements to reports; and report control. The author also cautions that in a young market, it is important to not only consider the product carefully, but also the company providing the product and services.