Branson Police Department now offers online reporting amid coronavirus outbreak

BRANSON, MO. -- Branson police are making a way to put more space between officers and the public during the coronavirus outbreak with a new online reporting system.

Instead of coming to the station, police in Branson are asking the public to make non-emergency reports on smart phones, tablets, or computers.

"Online reporting gives us the ability to accept the reports that people need to make but not have the personal contact with them," Lieutenant Sean Barnwell said.

Branson Police are still patrolling the city and responding to emergencies.

"Always here. 911 is the best number, regardless of what your issue is," Lieutenant Barnwell said.

However, for non-emergency reports, they want people to report online through the city's website.

"Miscellaneous accident reports, anything for damage for under $750 where there's no injury. They can report a crime report. Those crime reports are reports where the suspect still isn't on the scene. He's gone," Lieutenant Barnwell said.

Lieutenant Barnwell says officers will still review every report and reach out to the person reporting if necessary.

"An officer is having to touch every report, just like they would if they were contacting the person. [However], it establishes that social distancing and gives us the ability also to prioritize," Lieutenant Barnwell said.

Meanwhile, he says crimes are down in the city recently. That's likely because there are fewer people in Branson.

"We are a tourist-based economy. Right now, our tourism is shut down. With that, our crime numbers are down as well. We hope that continues," Lieutenant Barnwell said.

However, Lieutenant Barnwell says staying home can come with issues, too.

"We worry about people being forced to be inside all the time and the problems that that causes," Lieutenant Barnwell said.

That's why he suggests getting fresh air, when you can, and remember to keep your distance from other people.

"Get out and take a walk," Lieutenant Barnwell said. "Go to areas that aren't crowded or congregated. Take advantage of the beautiful weather as it comes up."

To make a report, go to the city's website and look under the "police" page.

Police say the online reporting system will be available even after the coronavirus outbreak has ended.