• St. Paul police are telling people to report certain types of crime online. 
  • The types of crime include criminal damage to property, illegal dumping, harassing phone calls, lost property and others
  • The policy took effect on Monday 

The phrase “To Serve and Protect” just got a little fine print in St. Paul. Police in the Minnesota city say they will no longer respond to certain types of crime and will instead direct people to file a report online.

The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports that, what began as an option for St. Paul residents back in 2015, will now be official department policy. As of Monday, crimes in nine categories will have to be reported online, even those that are already in progress. St. Paul Police spokesman Steve Linders said that the move signals a step forward for the department.

“This is about us using innovation to be more efficient — and make sure our officers are available to help the people who need them most, where they need them,” Linders said.

The nine categories of crime that will now require online reporting include criminal damage to property, illegal dumping, harassing phone calls, lost property, theft from auto (exception of stolen license plates), fraud and forgery, detached garage burglary, informational reports, theft (except guns, motor vehicle thefts, license plates). These crimes have been classified as “lower-level” by city law enforcement. Many of them lack sufficient evidence to definitively solve.

Deputy Chief Matt Toupal stressed in an email that if the suspect is on the scene, police will respond and that if people don’t want to or are unable to file a report online, they can do so over the phone. Linders also stressed that the department takes the online reports very seriously and they are thoroughly examined and investigated. In January 2019, 153 people filed online reports. Last month, there were 425 reports filed. The surge in numbers indicates an increasing move toward online reporting.

The reports can be filed from any type of internet-ready device, including desktop and laptop, cell phone or tablet.

computer-914546_1920 (2) Windows 10 platform Photo: Kleinerganz/