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A Saint John Police Force car. Image: Brad Perry

Police Hope To Roll Out Online Crime Reporting Soon

By Brad Perry Jan 17, 2023 | 6:30 AM

Police in Saint John say they hope to roll out online crime reporting over the next few weeks.

Chief Robert Bruce said it will coincide with the launch of a new website, which should happen in February.

“It’s just technical pieces,” Bruce said following last week’s Saint John Police Commission meeting. “Everything is in place. We’ve done the testing, we’ve run through it.”

The police force has been exploring the idea of online crime reporting for at least a couple of years.

Const. Les Drost gave a presentation on the subject to police commission members in March 2021.

Drost said a recent employee survey found officers feel they are responding to too many “nuisance calls,” such as minor collisions and small thefts.

“I think that there’s a better way to do it than potentially send a police officer there for all of these calls,” Drost said during his presentation.

“I feel sometimes that the morale is decreasing because they’re feeling overwhelmed with call volume and they’re actually saying that they’re going from call-to-call doing a poor job on each and they’re seeking change.”

Drost said one of the goals would be to free up time for officers, allowing them to respond more quickly to higher-priority calls and spend more time in the community.

Other forces who use the same crime reporting system have reported a 20 to 30 per cent drop in call volume, he said.

“This is taking the administrative work away from a police officer and putting it back into the hands of civilians,” said Drost, “and I firmly believe it’s a more timely way to do it.”

Meanwhile, Bruce said citizens will be able to report minor crimes, such as mischief and theft under $5,000.

“Minor crimes that you don’t necessarily need a police officer there, there’s no evidence of who did it or how they did it,” he said.

Bruce gave an example of a lawn mower being stolen from someone’s garage, with no video surveillance or witnesses to the crime.

Police would analyze the data to determine whether there may have been other similar incidents in the area, he said.

“Maybe there were five lawn mowers in the same area that were stolen, so now we can analyze that and say ‘OK, we’ll need to do something about that,'” said Bruce.

“It’s a one-off, then we’ll get our officers to find out what’s going on with that lawn mower.”

Bruce said with investigations becoming more complex, the online reporting system could help free up time for officers.


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