Roanoke police say online tool for reporting crime now running smoothly

While the tool launched back in November, it had a few bugs

Roanoke City police are pushing for citizens to take advantage of their online reporting tool.

Roanoke, Va. – Struggling with fewer officers and minimal interaction because of the coronavirus pandemic, Roanoke police are pushing for people to take advantage of their online reporting tool to report non-emergency crimes.

The tool was launched back in November, but so far, only about 75 reports have been collected.

With some bugs now worked out, police said with less staff available, this could allow people to get help as officers handle other violent crimes.

“Someone could be sitting at home for an hour or two, unfortunately, while that incident is taking place before an officer is able to get there and make a report,” explained Sgt. William Drake.

Created by its own IT department, Roanoke police said that the feature is also cost-efficient and secures the database of information.

Though police are hopeful for the new feature, similar online tools have shown not to be a hit everywhere.

The Danville Police Department launched a similar feature last April.

Using social media to promote it, the department ended up only receiving a handful of reports.

“We really anticipated more folks, because it’s a very easy feature to use,” said Danville’s Capt. Richard Chivvis. “But every jurisdiction is different and every jurisdiction has different needs and expectations.”

With little response, Danville Police canceled the service at the end of the year; however, Chivvis said it’s something they would be willing to revisit in the future.

On the other hand, Lynchburg’s Police 2 Citizen tool has been working just fine for that department since its launch in August.

Lynchburg Police Community Relations Coordinator Carrie Dungan said it helps them serve the public “without impacting the safety of them or our officers.”

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Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.