LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A system that will allow residents to report minor crimes without an officer's response to the scene has been implemented here in an effort to refocus the police department's resources.
Staff shortages and a rapidly dwindling budget prompted Las Cruces Police Chief Bill Baker to make the change.
Police were taken out of specific neighborhoods and assigned to patrol a certain district in 2000. But officers have spent much of their time responding to low-priority calls.
The new system allows residents to report some crimes by telephone or to a secretary at the police Department.
"It just saves time," Officer Kiri Daines said. "It keeps us available for in-progress calls" such as accidents or burglaries.
The self-reporting system applies when the loss is less than $250, there is no evidence to collect at the scene of the crime and there are no suspects to be interviewed at the scene.
The self-reporting system has been in place for about a month, Daines said. Police are developing a Web site that will allow residents to report crimes over the Internet.
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Baker said the system, once completely implemented, should reduce calls to which officers must respond by 25 to 40 percent.