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Billings police adding online crime-reporting tool

System aimed to speed up property-crime reporting
Posted at 6:08 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 20:08:23-05

BILLINGS  — The Billings Police Department has rolled out a new, secure online crime reporting system.

The system is connected directly to the Billings Police Department's database, so the department can take the reports, designed mostly for lost property, thefts and vandalism, with no suspect information.

Billings Police Lt. Brandon Wooley said you can still call dispatch or 911, depending on the emergency, to make a police report. Dispatchers will often refer callers to the volunteer patrol center to make a police report if they're reporting crimes with no suspect information. Typically, they will call you back.

"Often times, even though there is no suspect information and an officer can't investigate those types of crimes for the most part," Wooley said, "a lot of times you will need an insurance police report number to file a claim for your insurance. That is valuable to have. Instead of waiting three of four days for someone to call you back to get a police report number when you already have the insurance process going."

Instead of waiting possibly 48 to 72 hours for a call back, you can hop on to the Billings Police Department’s website, fill out an incident report online and get an instant case number.

You will also receive text and email updates, tracking where your case is in the process.

Wooley said it's an easy way to put information into the database, allowing the department to track it and hone in problem areas in the city.

"We can track that and then we can see, 'well there is a burst of complaints in this neighborhood, and there's a burst of complaints in that neighborhood.' It gives us an idea. It gives us some visibility," said Wooley. "When you have become a victim of a crime, the last thing you want to do is wait two to three days for someone to call you back. Where this maybe gives you that platform where you can get the ball rolling today, right now."

All personal information is protected on the site, according to Wooley.

The system is also equipped to work on smartphones and iPads.

"We just want to reiterate, too, if there is suspect information that is a case where an officer needs to respond to that," added Wooley. "Or there is a violent crime or a crime in progress against a person that warrants a call for law enforcement."

In the future, the police station hopes to have iPads available to the public in exchange for their ID to use to file an incident report online.