The Oceanside (CA) Police Department added a button to its website last week so people can file police reports via Zoom. Previously, such reports could be made only in person or over the phone.

The idea came from a law enforcement officer in a graduate class taught by Oceanside Police Lt. Taurino Valdovinos, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valdovinos teaches in the online master’s program in law enforcement and public safety leadership at the University of San Diego. Last fall, he asked students in his Communication Skills for Law Enforcement Leaders course to come up with ideas on how to better serve community members in an era of social distancing and social unrest.

One of Valdovinos’ students, a Jacksonville, Fla., sheriff’s deputy named Benjamin McEwan, suggested departments use the videoconferencing platform Zoom to take police reports.

Valdovinos said McEwan’s idea — which allows residents to talk directly with a police officer over a video call — seemed an excellent way to improve communication during this time. “COVID isn’t going to go away so we have to adjust to social distancing and those kinds of things,” he said.

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