WHEELING – Townspeople will have the option from Tuesday to report certain crimes online.
A Wheeling resident can always call the department for any reason, Deputy Chief Ken Prager said. Yet for smaller crimes with no known suspects, that resident also has the option of registering the complaint at wheelingwv.gov/onlinecrimereport. These types of incidents include harassing phone calls, hit and run, identity theft, loss of property, theft, traffic complaints, vandalism and vehicle tampering.
Police said the site is designed to collect data on minor incidents for further investigation, statistical analysis and state reporting while eliminating the requirement for an on-site response from officers.
The online system is only available for listed crimes with no known suspect, and Prager said anyone more comfortable speaking in person with an officer is encouraged to do so.
“He can still go through the old traditional dispatch call system or come to our front desk to speak to an officer,” Prager said. “If it’s something they’re more comfortable with, there’s absolutely no problem. It just gives people the option to do so, if they are more comfortable reporting online from home and don’t want to make contact because of COVID or for whatever reason, they can file online. . “
Prager said that in many cases a person may need to file a police report for insurance reasons, which he believes the online system should speed up.
“This is not (for) an ongoing crime; these are things where if your car has been vandalized or if there has been a hit and run, usually a non-urgent incident,… often,… an insurance company requires something to be dropped off, so it’s fair an easy outlet, ”he mentioned. “If you have no leads, no sources, no emergencies, it’s just a simple way to eliminate it.”
Prager added that the site will be monitored consistently, as every patrol supervisor can access it, as well as some retired civilian staff and officers. He hopes that users of the site will notice that reportable incidents do not cover major and active crimes and would instead call the police.
“Every day everyone should have a habit of checking this and making sure there is nothing active,” he said. “… If this is an ongoing crime, I hope they call 911 and don’t check the box online. “
The system could free up resources for the police to be better used for other purposes, Prager said.
“A policeman on patrol, instead of being sent to a location, gathering information, reporting it here and filling out an incident report – lots of time … no suspects, no idea how to do it tracking – you keep them free from that, “he said.” In the midst of COVID, people are worried about coming into contact with other people. It’s not a problem if it is completely computerized.
Ward 2 Councilor Ben Seidler said on Friday he was not aware of the impending launch of the online reporting system. After hearing about the move, he said he was excited to see the technology being used in a useful way to improve policing services.
“It goes without saying that I am a big believer in technology and revising processes to allow our officers and municipal staff to be more productive with their time,” he said. “This tool should allow agents to prioritize the most urgent calls around those types of less urgent calls that may not require the same level of rapid response. I am all for taking advantage of new technologies in the interest of increasing productivity.