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Police plan 24-7 virtual self-serve crime reporting over in-person reporting


Like a self-serve checkout at the grocery store, Winnipeggers will be able to report crime in a similar way.

A new self-serve way to report non-emergency crimes is coming to three Winnipeg police stations. Police Chief Danny Smyth told the Winnipeg Police Board Friday that a 12-month pilot project is in the works which will see the virtual reporting systems in place.

"It won't be the model like we had in the past where you'd be greeted by an officer sitting behind a desk," he said.

During the pandemic, the police service closed the east, west and north district stations to the public. However, in-person reporting at the downtown headquarters remains open.

Under the pilot project, people could visit the district stations and use technology to make a report for non-urgent incidents.

"That's what technology provides, is that 24/7 ability to report crime," said Markus Chambers, chair of the board.

The aim is to reduce unnecessary calls to an overburdened 911 system and ease demand on general patrols. Station lobbies will be outfitted with virtual video and telephone service, online reporting terminals, a video evidence drobox and electronic file sharing capabilities in order to report crimes.

A volunteer will be available virtually if needed.

"They'll act more like a wayfinder, make sure you're being steered to the service that you need," Smyth said.

Police already do virtual break and enter responses. For people who are not comfortable using technology or can't get downtown, police say officers in patrol cars will still be available.

Still, not everyone is happy with the pilot.

"I think frankly that is laughable," said Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt.

He, along with Charleswood Coun. Evan Duncan, is calling on the police to reopen the district stations for in-person reports.

"There should be somebody there 24/7 to meet with them, to talk to them," Wyatt said. "I don't think it's too much to ask."

Smyth suggests it might be too much to ask.

He said when the stations were closed to the public, the service was able to redeploy 18 positions per station to the frontlines.

"I can tell you clearly right now, I don't think that's a good use of police resources," he said.

Police already have online reporting in place. Smyth told the police board this is saving $65 per report.

It's unclear when the pilot could begin. Police said there will an education and awareness campaign about the project using billboards and bus ads. Top Stories

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