Website simplifies reporting of minor incidents to police

Harrison Township Police Department offering limits face-to-face interaction during COVID

In April, the Harrison Township Police Department launched a Citizens Services Program Website for the reporting of minor incidents, helping to limit face-to-face interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kristen Dowd/The Sun)

The Harrison Township Police Department is trying to spread the word about its new Citizens Services Program Website. 

The site launched on April 15 as a way for residents to report minor incidents that don’t require face-to-face interactions or need immediate police attention. The department’s records management and dispatch services are run through Gloucester County, and the website was an available service not previously used.

“They said, with COVID, they would initiate it for us if we wanted to use it,” Lt. Ronald A. Cundey said. “We jumped on board.”

Especially in April, when the state was under a mandated quarantine and social distancing was of the utmost importance, the website was a valuable resource. It eliminated the need for in-person meetings for many concerns, such as vandalism, accidental damage or speeding complaints. 

“We knew this would be beneficial for both us and the residents, to have something reported online and have us follow up if need be,” Cundey said.

When an individual logs onto the new website to report an incident, there are preliminary questions to answer before a report can be filed, including whether or not the incident occurred in Harrison Township, if there was an injury or if any type of weapon was involved. If the incident was outside city limits or involved an injury or weapon, the individual cannot proceed. That  eliminates the possibility of more serious incidents or crimes, particularly those needing immediate police response, being filed in the wrong system.

Additional options on the website include filing anonymous tips and house check requests, as well as accessing the police newsletter, alerts and road closures.

Shift supervisors check the system every day. Every incident filed generates a report in the system, and it can be converted into a full incident if needed. Those who file reports on the website will get a response back when it is viewed and closed out.

“It’s just a way for more interaction, but so folks don’t need to see an officer in person,” Cundey explained. “They might not feel comfortable dealing with an officer directly because of COVID. It gives them peace of mind.”

Cundey said the service is also helpful for those who work and don’t have a lot of time to wait for responding police officers in a non-emergency situation, as well as those who feel like it’s a bother to ask police to respond to a non-emergency.

“Which it’s not,” Cundey stressed, “but here they can just put in the request.”

Even as COVID-19 slowly goes away, the website is here to stay, and the HTPD hopes to expand its offerings in the future. 

“We’re always looking for ways to better serve our community and residents. We felt this would be beneficial to them,” Cundey said. 

“And it’s no cost to us. That’s an even bigger benefit that we’re not paying a website service. It’s free for the township and free for the residents to use.”

To access the HTPD Citizens Services Program Website, visit http://harrison.prophoenix.com.