ANCHORAGE - Certain Anchorage crime victims now will be able to register reports with police online in a move that could ease what is often a slow, backlogged system.
Victims of theft, fraud, vandalism, lost property, identity theft, harassing phone calls and thefts from vehicles can now go to the department's Web site to file their case with the police.
People with emergencies, however, should still call 911. Police also said crimes where there are known suspects should not be referred to the online system.
In short, the system is used for crimes that do not require an officer to respond.
The department hopes to reduce some of the 15,000 crime reports a year it takes by phone. Each phone call takes 20 to 30 minutes for a police clerk to file. That time can now be used for the other duties clerks have, such as ticket processing, officer Brian Burton said. Burton is heading up the new Internet system.
For victims, the new system will alleviate the often long phone waits.
"We had citizens out there waiting an extreme amount of time," Burton said.
Those who don't have a computer or access to the Internet will still be able to call, he said.
The police handle about 85,000 reports a year, including 911 calls, walk-in complaints and phone calls.
Filing by computer is much easier than spending "a half hour or hour before work or leaving work earlier to make it to the police department," said the program's California-based developer, Randy Burkhammer. He is the co-founder of ePolice Department Inc.
Burkhammer, who was a police officer for 16 years in Newark and Fremont, said the year-old system is being used mostly in cities in California, including San Francisco, Stockton and Union City.
The new system cost Anchorage police $15,000. Burton said the department will likely recoup that money within four months with the manpower hours saved.