How DC police hope to make it easier for some crime victims to stay in the loop

When you become the victim of a crime, a lot of the time you’re left to rely on a business card for the responding officer, and later a case number to jot down on a sheet of paper you then have to keep track of.

But now, at least for the victims of some crimes, D.C. Police will be taking advantage of our reliance on cellphones and emails, with a little help of automation.

A company the Metropolitan Police Department already uses to help with record management will now be utilized to send the victims of certain crimes text messages and emails updating them on certain aspects of their case.

“The first text message — they’ll receive within 72 hours. That will memorialize the officer’s name that took the report, it will provide the report numbers and it will provide what the classification of the report was,” said Carlos Heraud, the Assistant Police Chief of the Investigative Services Bureau.

It will also have several website links that may assist a victim of a crime, Heraud added.

“The second email or text message they will get will be at the time that it gets assigned to a detective,” Heraud continued. “Again, that text message will provide the report numbers, the name of the detective, the contact information, email for the detective.”

A third text message or email will announce any arrest that police make.

Heraud stressed that this will be used to provide updates for the victims of most crimes around the city, though certainly not all of them.

“I’d say almost all, because I think there’s some of the more serious offenses like sexual abuses or homicides, that we don’t want to, for a minute, think this is an acceptable means to communicate to victims [on] the progress of their case, or more importantly, when an arrest has been made,” he said.

“It’s extremely important that our detectives maintain that that person-to-person communication with the victim of a more serious offense,” he added.

But for things like property crimes, misdemeanor assaults or thefts, the hope is that this provides more convenience for the victim and less confusion for any officer who answers that victim’s phone call.

“They’ll have the detective’s email, they’ll have the phone number and email to our entire Criminal Investigations Division, so they can call and seek a follow up. But there won’t be a guessing game of where the offense occurred or what day it occurred,” Heraud said.

“They’ll have the report numbers handy to them. So anybody across Metro Police Department that answers a line should be able to look at those report numbers, at least give them a brief update, and then get a more comprehensive one from the detective.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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