D.C. police to set up crime reporting site

The Metropolitan Police Department plans to roll out a new tool this month that will allow District residents to report theft and other non-violent crimes online, in hopes of streamlining the incident reporting process.

As an alternative to filing paper reports, users will be able to access the online crime-reporting system through the department’s home page, MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said.

“This new system will allow citizens to file certain police reports online, rather than having to call the police and have a police officer respond,” Crump said. “In other sectors of government, technology is being used to make filing reports or obtaining information more efficient and easier.”

Once an online report is logged, the complainant will receive a preliminary report through e-mail. Officers will review a final report and send an electronic copy to the individual reporting the incident.

Individuals can still choose to file paper reports, but MPD will encourage use of the website, Crump said. Violent crimes cannot be reported through the online system, because officers respond to those situations directly for safety purposes.

“The online tool is not to be used as a substitute for direct police service in emergency situations,” Crump said.

Though it may take residents time to become familiar with the online option, she said it will streamline the process for those who would otherwise call in to make reports.

For nonviolent crimes including theft, burglary, stolen vehicles and arson, the department received a total of 26,374 reports in 2011, MPD law enforcement analyst Sean Goodison said. Police Service Area 207, which includes GW, saw about 385 of those incidents.

The Boise Police Department in Idaho has an online crime-reporting tool that asks users to select specific nonviolent crime categories, warning multiple times that it should not be used for emergencies and that filing a false police report is criminal. Police in Sacramento, Calif., Seattle, Fairfax County, Va. and San Diego also offer online filing systems.

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