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Bend police launching new text system in effort to improve communication with callers, public

It's First agency in Oregon to use SPIDR Tech platform

(Update: Adding video, comments from police chief)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bend Police Department is launching a new texting tool next week to improve communication with the public. It will follow up on calls to 911 or the non-emergency dispatch line. Police hope it will address complaints by those who call police about crimes or other issues and often feel "left in the dark" afterward.

Deschutes County 911 was instrumental in supporting the change technologically "to ensure the program operates reliably and efficiently," Thursday's city announcement said.

The SPIDR Tech platform provides a new tool to communicate with those calling 911 and crime victims. The platform enables Bend Police to send fully automated follow-up messages to victims of crimes and 911 callers. It also allows police to close the communication loop by providing pertinent information to a caller or crime victim and by soliciting community feedback about each person’s experience with the department.

In 2021, Portland State University conducted the bi-annual community survey on the Bend Police Department. The survey revealed that the Police Department needed a more robust process to provide follow-up and essential information back to our community regarding their calls for service.

"We have been working with the company for a better part of a year," Police Chief Mike Krantz told NewsChannel 21. "We've tested it, and we went through a lot of different IT setups with our systems, as well as coordination with Deschutes County 911 to ensure the system works and does all it's supposed to do. And we're confident when we turn it on, it's going to work."

The city said the new technology with SPIDR Tech will enhance the department’s customer service capabilities by sending fully automated text and email messages to victims of crimes and 911 callers. It also collects community feedback through an optional electronic survey after an incident. The primary messages and survey will be sent in English and Spanish. Survey results will be used as a tool to assist the department in continual service improvement. 

“I am excited for this new tool to help us increase the sharing of essential information with our community who requests our service through 911”, Krantz said. “One of our City Council goals is to increase the efficiency and transparency of city operations through the use of technology, data, and long-term planning. SPIDR Tech will assist us in our ability to stay connected with our community and continue to provide transparency and efficient, high-quality customer service.” 

The initial implementation of the SPIDR tech program will begin on Monday. It will involve the delivery of automated text messages to callers of 911 and the non-emergency line that acknowledge the call for service and provides some basic information to the caller.

"The SPIDR Tech platform will turn on Monday," Krantz said. "Once a caller calls 911 or non-emergency number, a couple minutes after the call is ended, they will receive the first text message that indicates their date and time of call, their incident number and some basic information, as well as when and if they should call back, if their emergencies continue or if situations change."

Additionally, callers will receive an update if there is an expected delay in police response. This text message will be followed with an optional survey regarding the service received.

In the near future, Bend police are looking to implement a second automated process with SPIDR Tech that will allow for the notification to crime victims for updates on the specifics of their cases. This would involve informing victims if an investigator is assigned, dates and times of reports, case numbers, and any explanations of next steps that a victim would be asked to complete or follow up with.

The survey found “a lot of the community wants more robust follow-up” in the future, Krantz told city councilors in a briefing on the new system Wednesday evening. He said alleged victims and others who contact police "often feel like they are left in the dark," and the new tool should help with that issue.

As reports are submitted, the platform automatically gathers relevant data and sends the victim a template-based email and/or text message with follow-up information.

Councilor Genna Goodman-Campbell said she has represented crime victims, and noted the inconsistency of follow-up communication being “widely different,” from one officer to another She also noted that some alleged victims, such as in domestic violence cases, might not want such texts, as they could pose risks.

Krantz assured that the individual situation will be reviewed and texts won't be sent in some cases, depending on the nature of the contact. He also said the system will be refined over time.

The Bend Police Department says it's the first agency in Oregon to use this innovative technology. SPIDR Tech is currently used in 62 agencies throughout the country.

SPIDR Tech was founded by former law enforcement officers to help law enforcement agencies leverage their own data to improve public perception and increase efficiency by providing excellent customer service. SPIDR Tech designed and built the world’s first comprehensive customer service infrastructure for law enforcement, with the goal of improving communication and transparency between the community and their police agencies, the city says.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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