In the summer of 2020, Rutgers University Police Department, a Caliber partner since 2006, became one of the first law enforcement organizations in the country to implement Caliber’s online Community Reporting system.
“Online reporting is something that’s been on my radar for a year or so,” says RUPD Deputy Chief Michael Rein, “but the pandemic definitely expedited the need for it.”
Prior to the advent and adoption of Caliber’s Community Reporting system, community members who witnessed a crime or suspicious activity would typically contact their local police department via 911. The 911 telecommunicator would have to triage the call and assign a priority. Based on the priority, an officer would more than likely be sent to meet the caller in person, take their statement and compile all the necessary elements to complete a police report.
In many cases, these police reports are the only action the department can take, but they’re needed for administrative purposes like insurance adjustments or replacement ID cards. Rein cites examples like missing items: A laptop or backpack has disappeared but the owner didn’t see the theft and doesn’t know who might have taken it. Without Community Reporting, an officer still needs to take the time to go to the scene and compile the report.
An online reporting system allows witnesses to file these minor, suspect-less incident reports themselves, while the 911 telecommunicator and police officers remain available for more serious incidents.
“It frees up police officers for what we would typically think of as legitimate police responses: car crashes, medical assists, those sorts of things that need an immediate emergency response,” says Rein.
And in a pandemic, Community Reporting allows for better social distancing as it cuts down on the number of face-to-face interactions between RUPD and community members. From the perspective of the Rutgers community, people filing a report can do so from their own computer and in their own words. From the department’s perspective, the RUPD can be assured that the information is being conveyed by a witness who was safe and comfortable during the communication process.
“My hope is that, doing it online in their own words, people will be a little more candid and a little less guarded,” says Rein. “Especially now, when communicating with masks can be frustrating. An officer can still follow-up if there are additional questions.”
Caliber’s Community Reporting creates a technological advantage as well. It’s easy to set up and integrates with Caliber’s existing records management programs, as opposed to custom-built online reporting systems that are time-consuming and thus more expensive while simultaneously being less nimble.
“I was able to sit down and build out the data elements that were needed in maybe about a half-hour or so,” says Rein. “I just built some forms into our existing records-management solution site. And then it was a seamless process to provide a secure code to our web developers to build that out on the website.”
Caliber is providing its Community Reporting program free to existing subscribers through 2020, so that as departments continue to navigate the pandemic landscape, they can experience firsthand the value and convenience of this new evolution in law enforcement communications. Please contact your Caliber representative for further information.