Home Military/LE Illinois PDs awarded $67K in grants for online portal dedicated to civilian tips By:

Illinois PDs awarded $67K in grants for online portal dedicated to civilian tips By:

Illinois PDs awarded $67K in grants for online portal dedicated to civilian tips   By:

By Steve Lord
The Beacon-News

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AURORA, Ill. — Aurora has been awarded federal grant money to develop an online portal where people could report incidents to the Aurora Police Department.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D- Naperville, announced this week that the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Program awarded Aurora and Elgin a total of $67,621.

The federal program awards money each year for a range of program areas, including law enforcement, crime prevention and education, technology improvement, mental health programs and more.

At its Sept. 27 meeting, the City Council held a public hearing on the grant, and then voted for a memorandum of understanding between Aurora, Elgin and Kane County on how to split the money between the police departments and the sheriff’s office.

The three agencies have been participating in the Edward Byrne grant program, named in memory of a young police officer who was killed in the line of duty, since 2009.

The grant is available to public safety jurisdictions that qualify. In Kane County, both the Aurora and Elgin police departments meet the qualification.

The Kane County sheriff’s office, by itself, does not meet the qualification because it does not have the qualifying amount of violent crime. But both Aurora and Elgin agree each year to cede 30% of their allocations to Kane County.

With the Aurora and Elgin split, and them sending some money to Kane County, the breakdown is: Aurora, $32,801; Elgin, $14,533; and Kane County, $20,286.

[RELATED: 50 ideas for a $20,000 police grant]

Aurora police have proposed using their grant funds to develop an online citizen reporting portal which would allow citizens to file non-emergency, non-violent matters to the police, according to a memo from Lt. Bill Rowley, of the Aurora Police Department.

According to the memo, citizens currently can only report incidents to the police in person by either coming to the police station or waiting for an officer to be dispatched to their location for a face-to-face interaction.

Rowley wrote that in-person reporting is often inefficient and can discourage residents from reporting incidents. That was heightened by the pandemic, but also takes into account people with mobility issues.

Rowley said that “having a computer-based or mobile-based platform for this reporting is a way for us to continue to demonstrate care and service to our community.”

In addition, police officials believe having an online reporting portal for non-emergency, non-violent matters will free up police officers to address other issues.

In the past, Aurora has used the money to buy squad cars, global positioning systems and surveillance cameras, Segways for patrol use along the Riverwalk and at RiverEdge Park, bicycles for patrol, off-road cargo vehicles and night vision equipment. The city also put some of the Justice Assistance Grant money toward purchasing body cams.

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