Lt. Brian Grassey has a list of statistics for the Natick Police Department.
There’s been a 71 percent increase in criminal complaints from 2004 to 2009. Each complaint takes an officer an average of 45 minutes to respond and write a report. And since he joined the force in 1986, Grassey said the department has lost 19 officer slots, with the bulk coming from patrol.
With this in mind, Grassey has worked to launch an online system that allows residents to report incidents like theft, automobile hit and runs, and vandalism. He said the system could theoretically handle up to 20 percent of the Police Department’s report volume if used to its maximum potential.
Grassey said that if officers can spend less time responding to calls and writing reports for, say, cars hit in the Natick Collection’s parking lot, they can get back to other policiing initiatives.
“We can get back to writing tickets, going into schools, crime prevention,” he said. “Most of the things we should be doing.”
People can use the system for any incident that’s a non-emergency and has no known suspects. In addition to lost items, hit and runs, vandalism, and theft, the system can be used to report street lights that are out, traffic complaints, harassing phone calls, and identity theft.
The online system also accepts anonymous tips.
All information is read by an officer to check for validity and completeness, and a copy is then automatically sent to the person who fills out the report. Officers will follow up with writers if needed.