APD offers new way to request crash reports

Reagan Ritterbush

People can now purchase crash reports online without going to the police station, using Austin Police Department’s new online portal.

“This online tool makes purchasing crash reports more convenient for citizens and decreases report request processing times, thereby making it easier and faster for citizens to file insurance claims and get vehicle repairs underway,” Police Chief Brian Manley said in a statement. “This will also free up time and resources that we can use to further our community policing efforts.”

Brandon Gilstrap, APD’s central records manager, said the tool allows individuals to receive reports from the comfort of their home five to 10 minutes after making a request.

“All you have to do is click on the link on the APD website, fill out the form and pay for the copy of the report,” Gilstrap said. “You can print, email or save it digitally instead of just getting a single hard copy. This is all for the convenience of the consumers.”

Individuals previously had to mail in open request forms and wait while officers manually copied and sent reports back, Gilstrap said.

“Sometimes people would come down to the station and wait for hours for crash reports, which was exhausting,” Gilstrap said. “Nobody wants to wait that long for something that could be within their grasp in less than five minutes.”

APD can also pinpoint crash data analytics using the new portal.

“We have been using the old method for as long as I can remember, but so far this new portal has benefited the community and us,” Gilstrap said. “We can easily see where most crashes occur and in what months crashes are more common. This will help us keep roads safer in the future.”

APD teamed up with LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions in order to make this new portal, Gilstrap said.

“We have partnered with them before to set up a portal for police officers to submit reports online and thought they’d be good to work with for this project,” Gilstrap said. “After talking to several police departments that use tools like this one, we knew we had to give it a try.”

Radio-television-film freshman Rebecca Dong said it has probably taken so long for APD to adopt a digital system to request reports because most police stations are just catching up to the ways that younger generations use the internet.

“It’s just easier to go on your phone and pay bills, shop and request reports,” Dong said. “It also makes the police much more accountable, because they need to have the reports and sources right away.”

Gilstrap said since they released the new portal, about 40 to 45 people have filed requests per day.

“This is a lot higher than it’s been before, and we expect it to increase still,” Gilstrap said.

According to the APD website, the only types of reports that can be requested through this portal include crashes that are not being investigated by officers, when the crash’s damage expenses do not amount to more than $1,000 and when the crash did not result in injury
or death.