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Victims offer mixed reviews on SLPD's online crime reporting

Victims offer mixed reviews on SLPD's online crime reporting



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City police are now letting people file reports of crimes on the department's website, but not all victims are satisfied with the process.

Andrew Saunders' car was burglarized near 1300 South and West Temple Thursday morning. He says he called police to get an officer out to look at it and was unnerved by the what a dispatcher told him.

"He told me to file a report online," Saunders tells KSL Newsradio. "The whole point of this is he comes out and he at least makes me feel better, right? He takes pictures and dusts the car for fingerprints."

The Salt Lake Police Department started offering online crime reporting in June. Department officials say it was to make reporting more convenient for the public.

"If somebody calls, and they don't have any suspect information, and there's less than $1,000 of things that are stolen, then we will have an officer call them back," explains Salt Lake police Sgt. Robin Snyder.

The practice of not sending officers to lower-value burglary and vandalism cases began years ago. Snyder says the city handles more than 8,000 of these calls per year, and the department decided responding to each of them made officers less available to answer higher priority calls.

Snyder says the department researched officer responses to car burglaries, and found that well over 90 percent of the time--perhaps even a percentage in the high 90s--officers came up with little evidence helpful to investigations.

"They're not going to get much more information than they're going to get on the phone," Snyder says.

She says online reports are not supposed to go unanswered. A corps of retired officers is assigned to go over the cases, make sure all pertinent information is included, and then call or e-mail victims their official police case numbers.

Snyder says officers will still respond in person to any call if asked.

"If a person calls Salt Lake City Police Department and wants an officer to respond, we will respond. We will never refuse to respond on a call," she says.

On the other hand, Saunders says the policy sends the wrong message.

"Unless they have video surveillance, or it's over this price amount, it's not worth our time running it down--which is a bad policy for the city to have if they're supposed to be protecting the citizens," Saunders says.

"It's not even worth it, in my opinion, unless my car is missing or someone is dying, to call the police at this point," he added. "I mean, they're not going to do anything for me."

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

Andrew Adams

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