Each week, Scottsbluff Police Cpl. Krisa Brass will answer questions submitted by Star-Herald readers. This week, the Star-Herald asked Cpl. Brass to address questions involving firearms ordinances.
Send questions for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving your question at 308-632-9057.
Question: How does a police report work? Is it our right to be able to file one, can we be told that we can’t file one if the officer we are in contact with says we can’t? What are police reports limited to and designed for?
Police reports are a huge part of our job. As a child, I imagined law enforcement officers spent most of their days chasing down bad guys and driving fast. In reality, so many hours go into typing reports. The purpose of a police report is documentation. Most often, reports are generated as a result of a criminal complaint. Reports are also generated for problematic situations that aren’t necessarily criminal in nature, but do require some kind of investigation and/or documentation.
Anytime an arrest is made, whether it be a physical arrest or a citation in lieu of arrest, a report is prepared and then forwarded to the appropriate attorney (County attorney or city prosecutor). Some reports are forwarded for a review of charges if no arrest is made, and other reports stay within the agency as documentation of certain events.
As far as a citizen wanting to file a police report, most often this would occur if you were a victim or witness of a crime. An officer may tell you your complaint isn’t criminal in nature therefore a written report would not be prepared. Even so, each call law enforcement responds to (criminal or not) is documented by our communications center. Again, for documentation purposes we would still have a date/time/location and brief summary of the complaint.
Question: I called the cops because I locked my keys in the car, but was told I needed to call a locksmith. Do cops still unlock doors for people? What situations will they unlock car doors for people?
This is an excellent question. Years ago, law enforcement carried around Slim Jim tools and would assist citizens in situations similar to yours. Unfortunately, it became a liability issue as people would complain if their vehicle was scratched or otherwise damaged and go after the department.
Due to the increase in liability, many departments across the country stopped offering this service. You were informed correctly, officers of the Scottsbluff Police Department are no longer able to assist with keys locked in a car. There are exigent circumstances where officers may take action to get into a vehicle if need be.
An example of this would be a distressed child locked in a vehicle. This would constitute an emergency where an officer would take action to ensure the safety of the child.