The Signal Hill Police Department (SHPD) and Policereports.us, the creator of a software program that provides traffic-accident and crime reports online, have entered into a one-year contract beginning Oct. 12 that allows the public to order such reports on the Internet.
“We want to improve the efficiency of the Records Bureau,” said Signal Hill Police Chief Michael Langston, who cited the recent death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a reason that people are discussing their appreciation for Internet accessibility.
Traffic and collision reports will be the initial police reports available to consumers online. To retrieve a traffic-incident report, users are required to give the report number assigned to the case at the scene of the accident, the names of the drivers involved, their own name and the reason for requesting the records.
Crime reports will actually be available “once we’re comfortable [with the software],” Langston said. Security procedures, such as manually censoring lines of information, will need to be adopted before they can be accessed online.
Acquiring traffic or crime reports in person or through the mail currently costs $20. These methods will still be available to customers.
To receive these reports using Policereports.us, the charge will be $24 because of a $4 convenience fee by policereports.us. This is a 20-percent increase on the previous charge.
Jonathan Stafford, Records and Technology administrator for the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), said that his department is considering implementing this type of software in the future, but that, as of now, they have made “significant efficiency improvements” in their records, specifically concerning “streamlining” internal reports.
“Our customers aren’t clamoring for [online access to reports],” Stafford said, as to why the LBPD is still looking for a software company for the agency to address the issue.
The SHPD’s fiscal budget is not affected by this additional service because policereports.us is only charging consumers the $4 convenience fee for their business. Therefore, no vote by the public was necessary.
Those who will benefit most from this software are insurance companies that are headquartered far from Signal Hill, according to Langston.
“Of online report service providers surveyed, Policereports.us had the lowest convenience fee charged,” he said. “They are also the service providers for 30 different California law-enforcement agencies.”
The SHPD had been searching for the best service provider for several months, Langston said.
Residents can currently see crime reports on the City of Signal Hill’s website under the “crime reports” subheading of the police department section.
Langston also expects to have a crime map and crime blotter online in the near future.