Pilot Police Program Expansion Delayed

A pilot program intended to expedite requests for police reports for people involved in automobile accidents has created a backlog and should not be expanded at this time, police officials said Monday.

Following that recommendation, the City Council's Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Councilwoman Laura Chick, agreed to postpone expanding the program and will instead maintain it at its current level.

Created 18 months ago to help those involved in accidents complete their insurance claims more quickly, the pilot program is currently available in the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley and Central Traffic divisions.

Rather than waiting the customary four to six weeks to receive the information, residents in those areas can provide officers with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and request the quicker service. In most cases they will receive their reports in little more than a week. The $13 fee is the same as it would be for any other report, officials said.

"We are taxing our staff to the extreme," said Cmdr. Joseph Bonino of the LAPD's Records and Identification Division, who added that the department processes around 80,000 accident reports per year.

"[We are] auditing less than 10% of the reports on an expedited basis. The other 90% of the reports are going to the back of the line," Bonino said.

Contributing to the delays, which can sometimes reach 12 weeks for nonexpedited requests, is the fact that the LAPD is in the process of changing the system it uses for filing the reports, Bonino said.

"The long-term solution, which is being implemented, is to use digital imaging of reports," said Bonino. "We are replacing the microfilm system that's been in place for about 12 or 13 years."

"I wasn't totally pleased with the report, but I'm happy that they are coming up with a real solution," Chick said.

"It sounds like it is going to take some time though."

Bonino said the new system is about two years away from being fully operational.

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