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OCEANSIDE, Calif. – The Oceanside Police Department is turning to technology that’s become a lifeline for many businesses and families during the pandemic.

Starting this week, the department has begun allowing people to file police reports with the video conferencing service Zoom. Using the department’s website, people can set up a Zoom appointment to report most non-emergency incidents that occurred within city limits.

“We already take telephone reports or people can come in to file cases if they like but now we just started doing the Zoom,” Oceanside police spokesman Tom Bussey said.

The idea stems from a public safety leadership class at the University of San Diego. Lt. Taurino Valdovinos, a part-time instructor at the university, developed the idea with the help of students.

Forming a relationship between the community and the department is critical, especially after so many have felt isolated during the pandemic, Bussey said, adding that it gives each report more of a personal touch.

“People who call actually get a one-on-one and can see the person that’s taking the report,” he said, “and that information to go back and forth with, actually being able to see each other.”

If it proves successful, Bussey hopes it expands to other departments within the county.

“I would hope that other agencies would start to do the same thing because it builds rapport with their community as well,” he said.