The layoffs of 80 Oakland police officers last week to help eliminate a $30.5 million budget deficit, prompted the department to announce that officers would no longer be dispatched to take reports for most nonviolent crimes, reports the San Franciso Chronicle. “With current levels of staffing, we are unable to respond to many lower-priority calls,” said Officer Jeff Thomason, a spokesman. Oakland residents must file certain crime reports online or visit a police station. Those without a computer can ask that a blank form be mailed to them or pick one up at a library. Residents can still call 911 to report emergencies and crimes such as shootings, robberies, rapes, and assaults.
No matter how crimes are reported, police said the department still wants to hear about them – even if the layoffs mean that no one will investigate if a suspect can’t be identified or is long gone.”You can still call the Oakland Police Department and say, ‘I need a report.’ We’ll always direct you to the right place,” Thomason said. “We’re never going to hang up on someone and say, ‘We don’t do that anymore.’ ” Crime analysts will use the reports to discern patterns, said Lt. Jim Meeks, who oversees investigations of property crimes and theft. Over the past two years, residents could go to oaklandpolice.com and report lost property, theft, vandalism, vehicle burglary and vehicle tampering. In the past, people could ask for an officer to come take a report. That will no longer be the case. By Aug. 2, police intend to expand the online system – called Coplogic – so residents can report seven other types of crimes, including residential burglaries in which the suspects aren’t known.