01/10/2012 05:00 pm ET

Ann Arbor Police Department Moves To Online Reporting For Minor Crimes

The Ann Arbor Police Department recently launched an online reporting program for minor crimes such as vandalism, theft and lost property.

The Ann Arbor Police Services Unit will also operate under reduced hours for several departments, including the records section, detective bureau administration office, property unit and police payroll office, WWJ reports. Offices will now be open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of city government holidays.

Elizabeth Patten is the officer in charge of implementing the new program. She told HuffPost that online reporting is unrelated to any changes in staffing or scheduling, adding that the front desk will still be open around the clock.

"This isn't an attempt to deter people away from the front desk or to deter them away from calling," she said. "It's one more option that they have to reach out and provide to the community."

Patten said the the new system, which quietly launched on Jan. 2, has been in the works for several years.

Ann Arbor isn't the only southeast Michigan police department to move away from an office-based system for crime reporting.

The Detroit Police Department recently launched its own "virtual precinct model" to some controversy, but that system differs substantially from Ann Arbor's. Under Detroit's new system, which kicked off Monday at an east side precinct, police take all calls between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. through a hotline. Many of the officers who once worked behind a desk taking reports will instead be out on patrol. All Detroit precincts will adopt the new model on Feb. 6.

Speaking to reporters at the Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the virtual precincts were "the right thing to do" for the Detroit Police Department.

"When you look across the country, there are a lot of other major urban areas that are doing this," he said. "We want to get as many police on the street as we possibly can, and this allows us to do that."