The Portland, Ore. Police Bureau (PPB) is expanding the online reporting system to allow members of the community a more convenient way to report crimes and free up officers to respond to emergency calls.
Previously, community members could report only a select number of crimes online, including thefts, hit and runs, and vandalism, where there was no suspect information. In 2019, officers responded to more than 8,000 calls regarding thefts. Responding to these calls amounted to about 6,000 hours of officer time. Therefore, the Bureau looked to online reporting as an alternative and something that would be more effective for both community members and officers.
Now the PPB are expanding that to additional call types:
Fraud/Identity Theft (where there is no suspect):
- Identity Theft -- under $5,000
- Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
- Forgery, including forged checks
- Telephone scams
- Shoplifts where no suspect is in custody
- Mail Theft (unless a government partner or business is the complainant)
- Theft of Bicycle (under $10,000 value)
- Non-felony level thefts where there is no suspect info (except for theft of drug calls such as prescription medication)
- Illegal Dumping
- Burglary to unoccupied detached garages, sheds, storage units
The ability to report more crimes online has numerous benefits to the community, says PPB:
- Victims can choose a convenient time for them to report the crime, rather than wait for an officer to respond.
- Victims can get a copy of their police report directly to their e-mail much quicker, usually within 2 business days.
- This will allow officers to focus on higher priority calls and community policing by reducing the time spent taking theft calls.
- It uses technology to help PPB work more efficiently in the midst of a staffing challenge.
- The increased convenience is expected to result in more low-level crimes being reported, which will help investigators connect more criminal cases, and keep more accurate crime statistics.
"The Police Bureau is proactively considering several approaches to increase efficiencies and improve customer service," said Portland Police Chief Jami Resch. "Empowering community members to submit an online report will save the victims significant time. It will save officers' time too, which allows us to redirect resources to focus on other priority areas, and displays the Police Bureau's stewardship of public dollars."
Chief Resch added, "It is important for victims to know these crime reports are important to us, whether they are made in person or online. Every online report will be reviewed by a sworn officer. At times, officers and detectives discover crime trends while reviewing reports and can connect cases together that can lead to arrests, convictions, and the return of stolen property to victims. But they can only do that if victims take the time to report."
Additionally, PPB uses crime data from these reports to direct resources and improve crime reduction strategies.