As a way to make reporting crime more convenient, the St. Paul Police Department has launched a Web site that allows people to file reports online. St. Paul police's reporting site, www.stpaul.gov/onlinereport, went live last week and was officially rolled out Monday.
Online reports can be made for non-emergency crimes such as property damage, fraud and forgery, and theft from automobiles. For a full list of appropriate crimes that can be reported online, visit the city's Web site.
The online system is expected to decrease non-emergency calls to 911 and free up officers who would normally respond to some of these minor calls, said Steve Linders, a spokesman for the St. Paul police. Officials hope that the system will offer another level of convenience to citizens, he said.
“This is a great tool. People who simply want to report a crime that has no solvability factors no longer have to wait for an officer to respond or call them back,” said Assistant Chief Kathy Wuorinen, in a statement.
“It also allows the department to allocate resources to address the most serious crimes and analyze crime trend data, which ultimately makes our city a safer place.”
Meg Ubel, 53, of St. Paul, went online Friday to find the nearest police station to report property she had lost. Then she saw she could file a report online. The entire process only took "10 minutes at most," she said.
Once a user submits the online police report, it is reviewed by an officer, entered into the records management system and assigned a case number. The person who reported the crime is emailed a confirmation of its acceptance and can also a print a copy of the report.
Along with online reporting, people still have the option of having a St. Paul officer respond in person or using teleserve, which allows people to provide information over the phone for a report.
Minneapolis has offered online police reporting since 2006, said Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder. Last year, the department received 3,849 citizen e-reports.
A state arbitrator has awarded the St. Paul Police Federation higher wage adjustments for their 2013-2015 contract than what the City of St. Paul initially offered. Despite the slight bump, union officials believe that the department will remain among the lower paid police departments in the Twin Cities.
Since last year, the St. Paul Police Federation and the city had been at odds over pay, which led to the arbitration hearing. The union said late last year that St. Paul police ranked 22nd out of 27 metro departments in average annual salary based on 30-year career comparisons. It also said that the pay put the St. Paul Police Department at a competitive disadvantage to hire and retain officers. The city meanwhile, argued that the union’s numbers were flawed and that the department had been adequately funded.
Arbitrator Jay C. Fogelberg awarded the following wage adjustments:
2013 - Retroactive to 4/1/13 - 1 percent rate increase; Retroactive to 10/1/13 - 0.5 percent increase
2014 – Retroactive to 4/1/2014 - 2 percent increase
2015 – Effective 4/1/15 - 2.75 percent increase
The city initially offered the union a 5.5 increase over a three-year contract (2 percent in the final year), which is equal to what was accepted by the other unions in the city, including Firefighters Local 21. The police union wanted a 10.7 percent increase over the three years. With the new adjustments, the city's police department will rank 19th in the metro in terms of pay, unions officials said.
"We’re considering this a minor victory with a long way to go," Dave Titus, federation president, said.