AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department’s new artificial intelligence-powered non-emergency reporting system is getting people’s reports ingested into the system more quickly than the old portal, according to Lt. Sheldon Askew.

“Currently, we’re looking at a 3-5 day turnaround from a reporting party dropping a report into the system, and that report getting assigned to a detective,” he said, adding that this process is what held things up the most with the old system.

We asked if this is in fact resulting in the desired reduced wait times, but the department could not say that for certain at this point.

“I can’t speak to how quickly they’re being contacted back,” said Askew. “The reporting parties by the detective, that is. Simply because I don’t know what their queues look like.”

In October 2021, police asked the public to submit nonviolent, not-in-progress crimes through 311 or instead of calling 911. Our previous reporting shows this process helped speed up response times to emergency calls, but it came at the cost of a backlog for lower level crimes.

The new system, which uses an AI bot to generate reports, aims to eliminate that backlog.

“I think that it’s not an ideal and permanent solution,” said John Bumgardner, who has experience with the old reporting system. “But at least the city is trying different things. And hopefully, for people like me who never think they’ll be in this situation, it’s at least a little bit of help compared to waiting.”

“The department wants to leverage the technology to not only help the public, but also the officers,” said Askew.

He said in addition to reports getting ingested into the system more quickly, it has also sped the process up by eliminating lag time prompted by officers having to call people to clarify parts of the reports.

“In the past, we consumed a very limited number of details that required the detective to contact the reporting party back,” he said. “Often [the detectives] did so on their terms.”

Askew said the new system makes it easier to check the status of your report and to receive updates, because once your report is generated, you get an email with a phone number you can contact to speak with someone who has knowledge of your specific case.

You can submit an Austin Police non-emergency report online here.