The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has become the first police agency in B.C. – and perhaps in the country – to introduce two-way texting for reports of non-emergency incidents.
The SMS (short message service) reporting system went live almost two weeks ago, but was announced publicly on Wednesday.
Const. Ian MacDonald said a few other agencies offer a texting option to report crimes, but they don’t provide a back-and-forth response.
He said the local initiative enables a person reporting an incident to chat via text with a call taker in the APD’s communications centre.
MacDonald said, this way, the person is assured that their concern has been received, and it enables the call taker to text back follow-up questions.
The complaint can then be passed on to police officers for investigation, in the same way that a phone call or email from the public would be handled.
MacDonald said the system was introduced because the APD recognized that some people might neglect to report crimes because they don’t want the hassle of having to phone in a complaint.
“We wanted to make sure we keep every avenue open for people to communicate with their police department in Abbotsford,” he said.
MacDonald said the types of incidents that people might report using the system are thefts not in progress, vandalism and nuisance complaints.
The service can only be accessed using a cellphone. Messages sent via a tablet or desktop will not work.
The code to send a message is ABBYPD (222973).
The public can also report crimes via the online reporting option available at abbypd.ca. Emergency calls should still be reported through 911.