The Newton Police Department allows the city's residents and businesses to use an Online Police Reporting Program to report a crime that does not require an emergency response.

"It does help us with the cases that we have that are not of the highest priority," said NPD Sgt. Mike Yoder. "It allows people to do reports whenever. They don't have to wait around for an officer to get there."

The number of submissions using the Online Police Reporting Program is growing. In 2015, 121 online reports were filed, while in 2016 the number went up to 146.

Some people use the Online Police Reporting Program because they do not want their neighbors seeing them talking to an officer, Yoder said. 

"A lot of times, people will come into the front office to make the report, and then we have to call officers off the street," said NPD Office Manager Marcy Lagree.

Using the Online Police Reporting Program not only keeps the officers out on patrol, it also saves the person making the report from having to stand in line at the NPD office.

"It's definitely handy for people," Lagree said.

You can give details about the type of crime that occurred, along with details about times and locations on the report.

The system is often used to report bike thefts, but other types of thefts like shoplifting can also be reported, as can criminal damage to property or defacement by graffiti.

Other types of crimes that can be reported include suspicious activity, harassment by phone or social media, criminal use of a financial card, forgery, identity theft and fraudulent checks.

Incidents involving vehicles — whether abandoned, burglarized or damaged — can be noted using the Online Police Reporting Program. You can use the system to report non-injury hit-and-run collisions if your vehicle was unoccupied and there is no suspect information to be reported.

If you know who committed the crime, do not use the NPD online reporting system. If you suspect someone of the crime but do not know for sure if they were involved, you can enter that into the narrative of the report. 

Filing a false police report is a crime. The system can only be used by those 18 or older. If a child wishes to make a report, it must be filed by their parent or legal guardian. 

If a gun or other weapon was stolen or used in the crime you are reporting, you must call 911 and have it investigated by an officer.

The NPD Online Police Reporting Program is only for incidents that occur within city limits, unless you are filing a lost property report. If you lose something — like a piece of jewelry while swimming at a lake — you can fill out the online report and put your home address in the “Location of Offense” field.

You will be able to review and modify your information before submitting the report.

After you complete a report, you will receive a printable PDF copy of the report by email, along with a temporary case number. That number or the permanent case number, which is assigned after the case has been reviewed, can be given to your insurance company. 

You must have a valid email address to file an online report. If additional information is needed, you will be contacted by email at the address you provided.

The reports are read by Yoder, who said it generally takes one to two days for submissions to be reviewed.

Filling out an online report will not dispatch an officer to the scene unless further investigation is needed.

"Sometimes people forget information that we need," Yoder said.

If you do not have a computer or internet access at home, you can access the NPD online reporting system using a web browser on your smart phone or go to the Newton Public Library, 720 N. Oak, or the Newton Police Department, 120 E. 7th St., to use a public computer. Otherwise, you can always call 911 and an officer will respond and take your report in person.

To use the NPD Online Police Reporting Program, go to http://www.newtonkansas.com/departments-services/police-department/online-police-reporting. In case of an emergency, including crimes in progress, always call 911.