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Police reports to be taken by phone in Concord

CONCORD ó The Concord Police Department is testing a new system of letting residents report some crimes and other incidents by phone instead of having to send an officer out to the scene to take a report.
The police department began exploring different ways to respond to calls for service over a year ago, the city said in a press release. In terms of police operations, the release said, the aim is to provide non-emergency police services without dispatching a sworn officer and car to the scene to take reports that meet certain criteria.
ěAfter researching this method with other police agencies in the state, police management reasoned that telephone reporting is a proven and effective way to better manage police resources, particularly the use of sworn personnel,î the city said in its press release.
Last year, Concord Police Department officers responded to 94,578 calls for service.
ěOur expectation is that the Telephone Reporting Unit will decrease this number and increase the amount of time for officers working with our communities to identify the root causes of more serious problems and work toward tailored solutions,î Police Chief Merl Hamilton said in the press release.
Reports taken by telephone are mostly misdemeanors that do not require an officerís presence and non-violent felonies such as property crimes. Additional criteria are:
Incidents must not be in progress;
There must be no physical evidence on scene to be collected;
No one suffered an injury;
There is no witness available for an officer to interview.
The unit does not take reports for traffic crashes that require a Division of Motor Vehicles accident form. Reports taken by telephone are processed through the Records Division, then forwarded to designated officers for distribution to the appropriate district where the incident occurred or to the Criminal Investigations Division to be assigned to an investigator for any necessary follow-up.
The Telephone Reporting Unit consists of two civilian Police Department customer service specialists. Training for the unit began last fall and includes a course on writing reports and training in use of a mobile field reporting system, the press release said.
Concord residents can use the service Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. The department will periodically evaluate the service to determine its efficiency and effectiveness, and to make any necessary adjustments.
The use of telephone reporting is already proven to be an effective response, the press release said. The Telephone Reporting Unit accounted for 20 percent of incidents that required a written report between Dec. 20 and Dec. 31.
To make a report to the Concord Police Department by telephone, call 704-920-5000 or 704-920-5580.

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