KENNETT TOWNSHIP>>Four municipal police departments in Chester County have joined a statewide digital Crime Watch program that gives people who use social media and mobile devices an easier and more effective way to fight crime and to be aware of criminal activity in their community.
Parkesburg, North Coventry, Southern Chester County Regional Police Department and Kennett Township have signed on to the program, and West Chester could be participating as early as next week. The new website was developed in partnership with CrimeWatch Pennsylvania and is part of the CrimeWatch Network, which is online at www.crimewatchpa.com.
“This is the most comprehensive crime notification community interaction program out there currently,” said Lydell Nolt, Kennett Township police chief. “We have to get our community involved in crime prevention. We are not everywhere, and we need the community to be involved.”
The new portal allows those who sign up for it access to e-mail alerts regarding public safety announcements, crimes committed locally, the ability to view recent arrests and most wanted lists, the ability to file a right-to-know request, and the ability to easily submit a tip to local law enforcement.
On the website, there are resources for Megan’s Law, missing persons, bullying, fingerprinting, special needs registration and much more. Complaints can also be lodged online.
The site also gives answers to questions such as the location of District Court, how to obtain a copy of a police report, how to meet with a police officer, how to complete a vacation notice, and how to pay tickets online.
The site features a current incident blotter that lists every type of crime, and all with mug shots. Most are DUIs, harassments or simple assaults.
“This new website is the perfect entry point for establishing better police and public partnerships,” Nolty said. Technology gives us the opportunity to communicate with the public and the anonymity of the technology avoids the potential risks of sharing information with the police. Many police departments throughout the region are having great success using this technology.”
Nolt said it takes one officer about 30 minutes per week to maintain the new CrimeWatch portal.
Through the CrimeWatch portal, municipal police have the ability to eradicate posts. Nolt said posts in which charges are dropped or expungement papers can be provided, the information is purged from the system.
“That was the biggest selling point for us,” Nolt said. “CrimeWatch can redact any content, even if it goes out on Facebook. With an expungement order, we can remove the content.”
Municipal police departments have the option to post what they want. In Kennett Township, the policy is to post everything, Nolt said. In the case of, say a domestic dispute, Nolt said the police item will be listed, but there will be no identifying information.
Bill Holdsworth, Kennett Square police chief, said the borough will not be joining CrimeWatch.
“It’s just a little cost-prohibitive for us right now,” he said. “Cost is based on population, and it would cost us $2,0-00 a year. It’s not a budgeted item, and it’s not worth us spending $2,000 on it right now. But it is a great tool and a convenient tool.”
Nolt said CrimeWatch is the way of the future.
“The way we communicate with the public is changing,” Nolt said. “We even have a president who is tweeting, so what else is next?”