The Portland Police Bureau has expanded the types of crimes for which it encourages citizens to file their own reports online.
In a recent press release, the bureau announced it was adding shoplifting—including quickie-mart "beer runs"—and "suspicious activity" to the types of crimes that can be reported using an online crime reporting tool launched in early 2010.
The company that markets the tool, Cop Logic, pitches it to police departments as a time- and money-saver. Agencies using the tool report handling up to 30 percent of all reports "without dispatching an officer," the company claims.
Online reporting makes some sense. These types of petty crimes, for which police have no suspect, are time-consuming and rarely solved. Last year, the bureau responded to 10,380 "theft from vehicle" reports, and another 5,390 reports of vandalism.
But there's something about the online reporting tool, with all of its jargon and prominent disclaimers, not to mention the fact that it generates two separate case numbers for people to keep track of, that's more than a little reminiscent of the 1985 fear-the-fear film Brazil.
"Upon review, if further investigation of your case is needed," the reporting page says, "you may be contacted."
Maybe, maybe not. It's policework 2.0!