An online reporting system is saving police officers and residents time and resources.
The RCMP launched an online crime-reporting project in four B.C. communities last summer. It allows residents to report minor incidents without calling the police.
The tool helps ensure that front-line officers and dispatchers can focus on the most pressing cases.
"It frees up our officers and time is a valuable commodity here with our high call volume," says Insp. Paul MacDougall, with the RCMP's Kelowna detachment.
RCMP in Richmond, Surrey and Ridge Meadows also started the program last summer.
MacDougall says for less-serious calls, officers often collect information and fill out reports. Now that can be done without an officer present using the online tool.
"It gives more time for an officer to engage in proactive initiatives, more time to be seen in the community and more time to deal with serious incidents and person-related crimes," he says.
Residents who report a crime online start with an interactive map and a few questions to make sure it's appropriate to submit. After email verification, the user provides more details on the date, time and circumstances before filing.
The tool accepts incidents that don't need police follow up, have no witness or suspect, involve damage of less than $5,000, and don't concern personal identity, firearms or licence plates.
Data from the reports bolster police understanding of community trends, helping to direct resources where they're needed most.
RCMP employees designed the reporting tool to suit the organization and work seamlessly with the British Columbia RCMP's record management system.
"An off-the-shelf product wouldn't meet our needs and the best path forward was to have control," says Chad Ciavarro, a senior project manager with the RCMP information management and technology branch.
"If we want to add an important crime type or have it work in another province, we have the skills, knowledge and people to do that," he says.