CrimeWatch network gives public direct access to crime information
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Through the use of a new social media tool, thousands of Chester County residents just got closer to being a part of their local law enforcement units.
In partnership with CrimeWatch Pennsylvania, the Kennett Township Police Department and the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department -- as well as several other area police units -- recently included a link to the CrimeWatch Network (www.crimewatchpa.com) on their websites, which gives the public direct access to crime and public safety-related information happening in their communities.
The police units in North Coventry and Parkesburg boroughs have also linked to the resource.
CrimeWatch is built on three areas of concentration: Education and awareness; technology and innovation; and intervention and outreach, not only for individuals and families, but for safety advocacy groups and local businesses. The resource allows residents to sign up for a free account to receive email alerts regarding public safety announcements and crimes committed in certain areas; the opportunity to submit a tip to local law enforcement; to view recent arrests and “most wanted” lists; file a right-to-know request; share information through social media; and connect with law enforcement resources and services.
"I think one of the things that police departments haven't done well with over the years is to communicate with the public," said Kennett Township Police Chief Lydell Nolt, who linked to the network in late June. "It began with the mindset of, 'This is a police incident. Don't bother us. We're doing police work.' Then we evolved to where we began engaging with the media, because we understood the need for that relationship, but we failed when it came to communicating with the public in a format they are already communicating in, on the same platform they are using.
"As a police agency, we needed to figure out how to use that same tool, using the same formats they do. Now, we're looking at this comprehensive software package as a system that gives us the ability to connect with Facebook and Twitter."
If even a small percentage of township residents join the CrimeWatch network, that's a good number, Nolt said.
"We have about 10,000 residents in the township, and depending on the situation, we may only have two or three officers on patrol in a given day, and they can only be in so many places," he said. "If 30 percent of that population has access to this information, that's about 3,000 people helping our department."
To learn more about the CrimeWatch Network, visit www.CrimeWatchPA.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.