Providence Police launch online reporting system for non-violent crimes

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Police have launched a new citizen online police reporting system.

Residents can use the citizens online reporting system website to report incidents that are non-violent, have no known suspects and have no physical evidence left at the scene. This includes harassing phone calls, lost property, thefts, and vandalism. among other crimes.

The reporting system is run by data company LexisNexis, which claims to reduce officer response time by about 10 to 30 percent, generate more accurate reports, and provide online access to citizens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police recently received a report of a stolen bicycle from a victim who was able to take full advantage of the new system.

“He was savvy with the system – he knew how to operate it right away – filled out his report, uploaded a picture of the bike,” said Sgt. James Mellor. “So I now have the capability of taking that photo and sending it to the entire police department.”

Mellor said this is just one example of how this system makes things easier for both investigators and the public.

“You have a situation where an officer can stay on his beat, do his patrol, and the report will still be done in a timely fashion and the person doesn’t have to be inconvenienced to come in to the police station,” said Mellor.

He added the system is straight-forward and easy to use and residents can print a report right from home.

“I see people numerous times that are coming in on their lunch break,” said Mellor. “It’s win-win really for the police department and the taxpayer.”

Police have not yet arrested a suspect in the case of the stolen bicycle.

“I know it sounds like a small deal, but to this person, you know, it was probably $300 to $400 bike,” said Mellor. “To him it’s personal. We want to make it personal for us, as well, and say hey no crime is too small here.”

This is just one example of a technological advance that can help police. Surveillance video can often identify a suspect, smart phones can help collect evidence and social media can help spread the word.

“There’s no question in 2017 that police departments are embracing technology. We need it,” said Mellor. “We need it to be more efficient we need it to do a better job investigating crime.”

The Cranston Police Department and Pawtucket Police Department also use similar reporting systems.

As of right now, Providence doesn’t charge for a copy of an online report, but that could change. A department spokesperson said the department may opt to charge a $15 “convenience fee” for a copy of online reports in the future.

The Police Chief will decide whether or not to add a fee when this contract ends in a year. Right now, the cost to print a copy of an incident report at the police is 15 cents a page.