DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) – To report a car accident, a lost wallet, a stolen bike, or similar non-emergencies, the Dallas Police Department will soon require you do it online.
The policy change, scheduled to take effect July 3, is expected to save patrol officers hundreds of thousands of hours a year, freeing them up to focus on more serious crimes.
Like other departments, Dallas police have had an online reporting system for years.
Only 6% of crimes that could be reporting through the system, though, actually are.
"I know it's hard to fathom, but once that report is done it would be no different than if an officer had taken it," said police Chief Eddie Garica.
Amid a national police staffing crisis, Garcia says the number of high priority calls to 911 are climbing, contributing to slower response times.
Priority one calls, like a robbery or active shooter, are taking police an average of 10 minutes to get to, up from 9 and a half minutes last year.
Priority two calls, like a major accident or abandoned child, can take an hour and a half, up from an hour.
Freeing up officers from responding to less serious crimes, the department estimates, would be like adding 65 more full-time officers and could save it millions of dollars.
"We're seeking officers to be available for higher priority calls. And we're seeking to reduce the demand on the workload of our patrol officers who are the backbone of this organization," said Garcia.
To make a report, visit dallaspolice.net and click on the top link in yellow. Those who lack access to the internet, can visit a local library or police substation kiosk.
Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano and Denton police report they offer online reporting systems, as well, although none make it mandatory for reporting any particular incidents.
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