PAPS aims to increase online reporting starting Wednesday

Herald file photo

The Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) is stepping up efforts to get more residents to report crimes online.

The PAPS has offered residents the option of reporting a crime through an online service since 2016. However, Police Chief Patrick Nogier said the system could be better utilized, since only two per cent of all crimes reported to the PAPS in 2022 were reported online. Police received 46,025 calls for service in 2022.

“We’re witnessing a comprehensive transformation in our approach to call responses at the Prince Albert Police Service,” Nogier said in a press release. “Our response methods have remained static for the past two decades. Elevating call evaluation and dispatch procedures to discern the right resources for the right responses is a paramount objective for the PAPS.”

The change comes from a recommendation made in a July 2023 Ministry of Correction, Policing, and Public Safety report on the PAPS’ operations. Recommendation four calls on the department to “immediately expand its online reporting to include other low-priority/non-urgent calls and aggressively market this option through local media, the City of Prince Albert and on their websites to the community at large.”

The report’s author,” former Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht, wrote that doing so would help reduce the call impact on the Patrol Division. Knecht recommended officers hand out cards on using online reporting, as that is considered best practice.

The PAPS will start using its upgraded online reporting system and alternative call response resources on Nov. 22. Nogier said the change will reduce the workload for front-line officers, allowing them to focus on quality investigations and improved service.

“Reporting crime online is important,” Nogier said. “We are meeting industry standards by mandating online reporting. There is an analytical component that is invaluable. Collecting and analyzing data to strategically deploy recourses allows and ultimately enhances our ability to maintain a safe and secure environment for all.”

Starting Wednesday, residents can report fraudulent scams, lost property under $5,000, mischief and willful damage, graffiti to property or vehicle, theft from vehicle under $5,000, theft under $5,000, breaking and entering (out buildings, sheds, fenced compounds, attempted breaking and entering, gas and go, and shoplifting when there is no suspect in custody.

After submitting the report, police personnel will review it. The filer will receive a cost-free email containing the report upon receipt.

“This model enhances the online reporting system by adding additional reporting options and an alternative call response model,” reads the PAPS press release. “Calls for service are redirected from patrol to a police member who takes calls directly from the dispatch queue in real-time by contacting the complainant by phone and investigating their complaint….

“This service empowers the public to submit reports at their convenience, eliminating the need to wait for an officer’s immediate response.”

The provincial government ordered an independent review of the Prince Albert Police Service in 2022 following three in-custody deaths in 2021, and the death of 13-month old Tanner Brass in 2022. That review resulted in 45 recommendations, which were released to the media in July. The full report has not been released.