TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County has given citizens the ability to report certain minor crimes online. This system will allow people to get crime reports much more quickly and will free officers to handle more serious incidents.
Monday morning, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Police Chief James Johnson held a news briefing at the North Point Police Precinct to demonstrate the new online crime reporting tool.
“Our officers are a precious resource, and it doesn’t make sense to send them on routine, low-priority calls for service when technology and modern communications give us a better alternative,” said Chief Johnson. “Every officer who doesn’t need to respond to a routine call because of this new system is available to investigate cases, respond to emergencies and patrol their neighborhoods.”
The Office of Information Technology and the Police Department’s Technical Services Division about a year ago began developing an online crime reporting system that allows citizens to self-report certain types of crimes.
“In every agency, we want to use technology and modern communication tools to improve customer service and make more efficient use of resources,” Kamenetz said.
This Internet-based crime reporting tool is available to victims of lost property, abandoned motor vehicles, hit-and-run accidents (not involving injury), destruction of vehicular property, destruction of other property, theft from a motor vehicle and other theft.
In the months ahead, the department will evaluate whether other categories of crime might be appropriate for online reporting.
The tool takes customers through a series of simple questions to determine if the circumstances allow them to file an online report, or if they need to follow the traditional reporting process. Crimes involving suspects, injury or significant amounts of money or damage are not eligible for online reporting.
Once a citizen files the report, the Police Department’s Records division reviews it. If the report contains errors, records personnel send it back to the user for correction. If there are no corrections, the citizen immediately receives an email containing a case number, and he/she can print out a copy of the report for insurance purposes.
Until now, customers often have had to wait for reports on lesser crimes because police officers make serious issues a higher priority. Now, people don’t have to wait.
Since November, about 330 people have used the online reporting system.