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Residents encouraged to report crime via online tool

Uptake slow locally, says Westlock RCMP Staff Sgt.
WES RCMP winter 2021 IMG-7093
The RCMP are urging all residents to use its online crime reporting system.

WESTLOCK - Although it’s yet to catch on locally, Westlock’s top cop is encouraging all residents to use the RCMP’s online crime reporting platform.

Since its launch May 31, 2020, there have been over 780 reports submitted online (https://ocre-sielc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/alberta/en) across Alberta, although in Westlock the tool has only been used by residents a handful of times. Westlock RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Baird said the slow uptake could be for a variety of reasons, but assured residents that crimes reported online will be taken just as seriously as those reported in person.

“For us to be compared to say the bigger centres, it’s worked very well. But I think here people want to talk to a police officer and here we can do that … maybe people here want more of face-to-face contact. Regardless, we want to make sure people contact us with any complaints,” said Baird.

“They’re not bothering us when they call in a crime. That’s what we’re here for; to find out what’s going on in the community.”

A Jan. 6 RCMP media release encourages all Albertans to report eligible crimes (select property crimes under $5,000) because reporting less serious crime online helps emergency call takers and frontline members focus their time on high-priority calls. It’s also a very convenient way to add to a report and even include photos of the stolen or lost property, the release notes.

The release goes on to say that more reports have been made in urban areas than rural, and the RCMP are urging rural residents to consider making online reports when possible. Baird added that the reports assist them in crime analysis, aids in establishing trends and patterns, and ultimately leads investigators to chronic offenders. It also assists them in making decisions about how and where to deploy resources.

“When people don’t report things it just takes a piece of the investigative puzzle out. All the calls that come in on all crimes and suspicious activities help us to do things like develop a patrol plan, but also can lead to more funding for additional members if needed.”

Data centre stats

Intertwined with the online reporting is the Police Reporting and Occurrence System (PROS) Data Centre, which processes all online crime reports.

The centralized data centre team handles records management and routine data entry to allow frontline officers to focus on policing communities instead of administrative work. From Dec. 1, 2019 to Nov. 30, 2020 the data centre handled over 58,500 requests, including the 780 submitted online, which saved officers, approximately, over 20,000 hours of time in front of a computer.

After the centre processes the reports, they are sent to the call-back unit, which is a specialized team of RCMP members designed to handle non-emergency calls for service in an effort to create efficiencies.

“If there’s something that comes in and needs further follow up the CBU will send it to us. And if not an officer on the unit will contact the person directly,” Baird added.

From Dec. 1, 2019 to Nov. 30, 2020 the CBU diverted and answered over 8,300 calls for service which is equivalent to approximately 22,300 hours of service or 18.5 general duty constables’ workloads over the past 12 months.

George Blais, TownandCountryToday.com