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YOUNGSTOWN Minor crime reports to be filed by mail



Published: Fri, August 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The chief said 70 percent to 80 percent of calls for service are for reports only.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Instead of waiting hours for police to show up at your house to take a report for minor crimes such as vandalism, theft and phone harassment, check your mailbox.

Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. said that, in an effort to continue to do more with less, certain reports will be done by mail. He expects to implement the new program shortly after Labor Day.

Bush said he will meet this coming week with his 911 supervisors to discuss how things will work. The chief said the police department typically receives 300,000 calls annually and responds to 95,000 calls for service.

"We've got to do a better job of calls we dispatch on," Bush said. "The 911 call taker will have the person on the phone anyhow and can determine if a [blank police] report can be mailed out."

Bush said it's not a matter of additional work, but his plan will require additional training. He said he wants a comprehensive, not convoluted, process to emerge.

New system

He said the blank report -- with an incident number already assigned -- will be sent to the complainant's address with a stamped envelope for quick return to the police department.

Once returned, the report would be entered into the computer with the corresponding incident number. If the report is never mailed back, that will be noted, too.

Let's say you come home from work at 6 p.m. and find that someone has slashed your lawn furniture. You want a police report to document the event, probably for insurance purposes.

As it stands now, your call to 911 to report the crime ends up on the call board as a low priority, Bush said. Officers will be sent to higher priority calls and may not get to you for several hours.

Under the new system, Bush wants such report calls -- residential calls for service that don't require a lot of investigation -- to stay off the 911 board and be handled via mail. He said officers will still be sent to all businesses and to residents who perhaps speak little English or have eye problems and difficulty writing.

Bush anticipates some backlash from residents who are accustomed to seeing an officer when they want to report a crime. "I expect some concerns and some questions," he said.

Lt. Dave McKnight of the planning and training division said reports handled by mail will mean more efficient patrols.

He said if you discover a theft from your property, that's a report that can be handled by mail. If, however, you see a guy running from your property with a stolen item, an officer will be sent to get the details.

meade@vindy.com




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