Certain Hampton crimes can now be reported electronically.

As part of an effort to increase emergency efficiency as well as the overall level of service for local residents, the Hampton Police Department has unveiled a new online system that allows the public to electronically report certain crimes and incidents.

Lt. Dan Gidley said the free, Internet-based system, which is available on the department’s website, allows residents to electronically report the following types of incidents: harassing phone calls, thefts, thefts from vehicles, hit-and-run accidents, vandalism, lost property and vehicle tampering.

The system doesn’t replace 9-1-1, and isn’t intended to be used to report other kinds of activity or crimes. Gidley said the new system also doesn’t prevent the public from reporting crimes, and instead should be seen as an additional tool for residents in need.

“The Hampton Police Department expects this Internet based reporting service to be very popular among citizens who have come to expect police services to be provided immediately and conveniently online,” wrote Gidley in a press release. “This web based reporting option will allow officers more time to address community needs while keeping pace with the public expectancy to complete services via the Internet.”

Gidley also said the system will allow the public to file reports “at a time that is best for them without having to wait for an officer to respond or call them back,” and in addition to this added level of ease he said he hoped it can help reduce the overall number of unreported crimes in town.

In December, two juveniles stole items from several unlocked vehicles in one part of town. Gidley said the department was able to make the arrests based on a civilian report, although he said the department had a lot of unclaimed property because “for whatever reason people didn’t report” the crime or the missing items.

Gidley said this forced officers to post fliers around the area of the crime, creating an additional “burden” that took away from other cases and duties — which he said could be dangerous in future situations.

“If your car was broken into or something was stolen, we want to hear from you,” said Gidley in a phone interview Wednesday. “We’d rather see everything back to its rightful owner than have it going to auction a year from now. We have a lot of things that go unreported, and we more of these crimes will be reported thanks to this system.”

After residents submit a report online, they have the ability to print a temporary copy for their records, he said. The report will be then be reviewed by police personnel, and once it’s approved Gidley said the submitter will receive an e-mail with an official copy of the report.

Police personnel will then enter the report into the department’s records management system, and officers will be available to review the document and any associated investigation and statistical analysis information “as if the report had been filed by a police officer,” said Gidley.

The department did a soft start with the system in November, and Gidley said between “five and 10 people” have used it. He reached out to media Wednesday because he wants to increase awareness of a system that hasn’t yet been “overly utilized” but has a lot of promise for Hampton.

More information about the online reporting system can be found here, which is the direct link to the new system. You can also access the system by clicking “Report a Crime Online” within the toolbar on the left side of the department’s homepage.

Original Article