More than 150 texts sent to Abbotsford Police in first month

The new option for reporting non-emergency crimes has been underway since May 1.

The Abbotsford Police Department’s (APD) new texting option for reporting non-emergency incidents has generated more than 150 texts in its first month.

Const. Ian MacDonald said about one-third of those resulted in an officer being dispatched.

He said these were for incidents such as a suspicious person or vehicle in the area, noise complaints or, in one case, an individual sleeping in a the vestibule of a bank.

No leads have yet been received via text for any of the investigations in which police have sought public information – for example, in the case of three recent robberies.

“People are still using the telephone (for those),” MacDonald said.

Only one text is believed to have been misdirected – a person from Toronto asking the receiver to bring beer – and some have not required an officer to follow up.

“We’ve had a few asking if this text really works,” MacDonald said.

The APD is believed to be the first agency in B.C. – and perhaps in the country – to introduce two-way texting for reports of non-emergencies.

The system went live in mid-April, but was announced publicly on May 1.

The system enables a person reporting a crime to chat via text with a call taker in the APD’s communications centre.

The complaint is then passed on to police officers for investigation when warranted.

The service can only be accessed using a cellphone not via a tablet or desktop computer.

The code to send a message is abbypd (222973).