Sunday, July 25, 2004

Got a crime to report? Try online



By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

It's just gotten a little easier to report crimes in Lakeside Park and Crestview Hills.

Besides visiting or calling the Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills Police Authority, residents and business people in the Kenton County suburbs now can report crimes online.

HOW TO REPORT
Online:
•  In Lakeside Park or Crestview Hills, go to http://lpchpd.com/ or http://crestviewhillspolice.com/ or http://lakesideparkpolice.com/.
•  In Fort Thomas, go to www.ftthomas.org/Police/ or http://www.ftthomas.org/Police/. Use for non-emergencies.
•  If immediate action is required, call 911.
 
Tip lines for after hours or reporting a crime anonymously:
•  Taylor Mill, Independence and Kenton police agencies' joint tip line: (859) 392-1962.
•  Boone County Sheriff's Department tip line: (859) 334-3500.
 
Most Northern Kentucky police departments also accept e-mail messages and/or tips about criminal activity through city, county or police department Web sites.
"Everybody's so busy these days that we wanted to make it as easy as we could for our citizens to report non-emergency items,'' said Paul Herbst, chief of the Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills Police Authority. If you're on your way to work and see an illegally parked car, for example, you can log on and report it to police.

Reporting forms for non-emergency situations, including noise violations, safety hazards, vandalism/graffiti, traffic or parking violations, or stolen, lost or found property, can be downloaded through the police department's or the two cities' Web sites. The Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills Police Authority also offers vacation-house checks and business emergency contact reporting forms online.

Two years ago, the Fort Thomas Police Department was the first Northern Kentucky law enforcement agency to offer online reporting for certain offenses.

Fort Thomas police created online forms for traffic and speeding complaints, abandoned vehicles, animal complaints and more when the city switched to a centralized dispatching system. Calls for service quadrupled.

Fort Thomas Police Lt. Ken Fecher said the system helps police clerks who had been overwhelmed with paperwork.

Online police reports aren't yet common in Kentucky, but some Northern Kentucky police predict they're the wave of the future.

"A lot of times, a crime may not be active, but you may want a report for your homeowners insurance,'' said Kenton County Police Chief Bill Dorsey. "Say you come home at night and someone's thrown a baseball through your window. This way, you can file a report online to create a record for your insurance company."

The system also frees up police officers on patrol to answer more urgent calls, he said.

Others say personal interaction is an essential tool for police.

"It may be that we've had three or four similar thefts and we need to look for common things to tie your theft with those,'' said Bellevue Police Chief William Cole.

"If you take the personal aspect out, you may not realize the similarities.''

Cole also worries that some people have trouble deciding what is and isn't an emergency.

In the past, some have called the administrative line after hours and left a complaint or said someone was bleeding. Bellevue police now have after-hours calls automatically forwarded to the dispatch center after four rings.

"As long as people realize it's for minor incidents, not serious crimes, it could be a valuable tool," said Tom Scheben, spokesman for the Boone County sheriff's department. "It might be the model for policing in the 21st century.''

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com





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