Program to let citizens report crimes

The Chico Police Department is melding technology and law enforcement by adopting an online reporting system for minor crimes.

Coplogic is software that works with a police department’s records system and allows citizens to go online and report crimes for which there is no imminent threat.

Capt. Lori MacPhail presented details about the program to the City Council on Oct. 1, and the council approved its funding unanimously.

The police department has been seeking a new records management and dispatch system over the last few months, MacPhail said. Several companies provided demonstrations of their products, leading police to adopt online reporting software.

“Coplogic became a common denominator,” MacPhail said. “Almost all of the companies partner with Coplogic as a vendor for this online reporting.”

Examples of the types of crimes that may be reported in this system would be lost or stolen property, minor traffic collisions, vandalism and harassing phone calls.

The program helps the police department in two main ways, MacPhail said.

First, citizens that previously left crimes unreported will be more likely to submit a report online, providing better statistical crime data. Second, it will reduce the number of crimes for which an officer has to be sent to the scene.

“Now, instead of them maybe having to wait because we don’t have an officer available, they’ll be able to go on to their computer and complete the entire report,” MacPhail said.

Once reports are submitted online, the records department will check it for completeness and accuracy and can submit it back for additional information if needed. The report will be assigned a case number and tracked online.

MacPhail estimates the Coplogic program will save the city $88,000 in police man-hours, an amount based on comparisons to Santa Barbara, a city of similar size to Chico.

Coplogic was founded in 2004 by a Bay Area active-duty police officer looking for ways to allocate resources more efficiently during an economic downturn, according to James Lee, the chief operations officer of Coplogic.

Agencies see a complete return on their investment within the first year, and often within six months, Lee said. Reports in Coplogic can end up accounting for anywhere from 10 percent to upward of 25 percent of all crime reports for the customer.

“By the police agencies’ own estimates they’re saving anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes for every report that they don’t have to take by sending an officer directly to the scene of the crime,” Lee said.

The company has nearly 400 police departments and municipalities as clients in North America, two of which are UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.

An online crime reporting system is not planned for Chico State right now, University Police Chief Robyn Hearne wrote in an email to The Orion. The department’s priority is upgrading an outdated computer-aided dispatching software. There are a couple reasons why the online reporting system is not a priority, Hearne wrote.

“One is we have a smaller population to serve and our calls for service allow us to continue to take reports in person most of the time,” Hearne wrote. “Secondly, we are training our student employees to take reports such as vandalisms and bike thefts so that they gain valuable experience as they prepare for their future law enforcement careers.”

The Chico police department has a high volume of calls warrant the need for an online reporting system, MacPhail said. The city negotiated the cost for the first year down to $14,000, with an annual maintenance and support fee of $7,000.

Coplogic should be up and running for the city of Chico by the end of the year, if not sooner, MacPhail said.

 

Bill Hall can be reached at [email protected] or @thebillhall on Twitter.