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GCN : November and December 2014
ONLINE PORTALS Even in the best places, crime is al- ways going to be a problem. Thank- fully, for many mid-sized American cities, the majority of those offenses are either misdemeanors or property crimes. Chico, Calif., is one such place. Nestled in the northern Sacramento Valley, Chico's 86,000 residents enjoy a low crime rate compared to many other cities. Even so , the volume of minor crimes was creating a unique challenge for the Chico Police Department's 84 officers and 240 ci- vilian support staff. Police officers were getting tied down with the less serious crimes, which was tak- ing away their ability to focus on preventing and investigating the more serious commu- nity problems. Budget constraints in recent years also meant working with fewer of- ficers, even as the population grew, some- thing that was making the influx of minor crimes an even bigger manpower burden than before. Chico Police Captain Lori MacPhail said when the city decided to replace its 20-year old Records Management System/Com- puter-Aided Dispatch (RMS/CAD) system, the town discovered the benefits of citizen- aided crime fighting. "We were in need of a new RMS/CAD system and had vendors come in to make presentations," she said. "During those pre- sentations we learned that most of the new systems were using a program called Cop- logic as one component, so we decided to have them come in as well." Coplogic allows citizens to report cer- tain crimes to police using an online portal, rather than requiring an officer to visit the scene. It's been implemented in 450 dis- tricts across the country so far. "Allowing citizens to fill out incident reports obviously saves police departments time and money, but it also leads to a more accurate report," said Director of Coplogic James Lee. "Instead of being stressed about an offi- cer visiting their home and trying to think about everything that might have been tak- en on the spot, people can look around and accurately report on every possible detail." Citizens can even submit photos of dam- aged or stolen items as part of the process, leading to an even more accurate descrip- tion of the crime. Back at the police station, a staff member reviews every report that comes in through Coplogic. Reports can then be sent back to citizens with requests for more information, turned into official police reports or in some cases, lead to having an officer dispatched to the scene. In Chico, Records Technician Christina DeGorge works with the Coplogic reports. "I check [reports] for accuracy, make sure that the crime occurred within our jurisdic- tion, make sure that it's filed under the cor- rect crime and then add a case number and put it into the RMS." As part of the reporting process, citizens must provide a valid email address. Once a case report is generated, the person who reported the crime is emailed a PDF of the document. Chico launched Coplogic following an ex- tensive public relations campaign to teach citizens about how to use the new system. Because Coplogic is cloud-based, Chico had minimal hardware expenses, and could use its existing equipment to allow its records department to access the site. The report data collected from citizens is housed at a secure data center run by Coplogic, and all communications be- tween the data repository and the Chico police department are protected by 128- bit encryption. Chico purchased the program for $19,000, which includes the first year of support and maintenance, a fee that is based on the size of the jurisdiction. There- after the city will pay $7,000 per year to maintain it. But those costs have already With the Coplogic crime reporting portal, Chico, Calif., police save sta time and improve reporting accuracy City enlists citizens for online crime ghting BY JOHN BREEDEN II 30 GCN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 • GCN.COM "Allowing citizens to fill out incident reports obviously saves police departments time and money, but it also leads to a more accurate report." -- JAMES LEE, DIRECTOR, COPLOGIC