Residents and visitors can now report non-emergency crimes online with the Durango Police Department – a change law enforcement hopes will reduce workloads for officers who have been responding to more complaints each year.
People are still expected to call 911 during an emergency, but 17 types of non-emergency crimes can be reported online, as long as the reporting party doesn’t know who broke the law and the law wasn’t broken on a state or U.S. highway. Online reports can be made at www.durangogov.org/policeservices.
If a suspect can be identified, Durango Police Cmdr. Ray Shupe said people should call dispatch directly for prompt police action. If it happened on a state or U.S. highway, people should call Colorado State Patrol.
The 17 non-emergent crimes that may be reported online include complaints about bears in trash cans, harassing phone calls, identity theft, property theft and illegal camping, to name a few.
“We’re hoping that we’re going to increase the kind of crime statistics we’re getting,” Shupe said. “Sometimes, people don’t want to bother with calling the police, so it’s easier for them to go online and report.”
The DPD obtained the Desk Officer Reporting System, a program designed by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, for free, Shupe said. And while LexisNexis found online reporting can save agencies time and money, cost savings wasn’t the driving force behind why the department signed on with the program, Shupe said.
“We really weren’t looking at it as a cost savings, more of a relief from the call load that we have,” Shupe said.
The DPD got 15,038 calls for service in 2015, according to police records. In 2018, that number rose to 16,272, records show.
John Hollywood, a senior operations researcher and policing market manager with the RAND corporation, said online reporting has been portrayed as a win-win for police and residents. Police spend less time addressing high-volume, low-level crimes and victims can get a case number without ever having to be interviewed by an officer, he said.
Online reporting can also give agencies concrete data about where the low-level crimes are happening, providing law enforcement with information to make better deployment decisions, Hollywood said.
One risk of online reporting is an increase in false reporting, although Hollywood said he hadn’t heard of such problems to date. Durango Police Department is clear on its online reporting page: “Filing a false police report is a crime.”