A new program will allow community members, businesses and other organizations to receive up to date notifications about crime trends in their area and suspect descriptions in an effort to increase citizen participation with local law enforcement in solving crimes, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced during a news conference Tuesday morning at in Waukesha.
“Law enforcement – this is their tool,” Van Hollen said. “We are just providing it to them and making sure that we run it. We are making sure that we make it useful by having other law enforcement agencies, individuals and businesses who receive the alerts. They will be the ones to decide and to use their description in what goes out to whom and what they do with the information that has been returned.”
The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Crime Alert Network is modeled after a similar program that Van Hollen said has been successful in Minnesota for 15 years. In Wisconsin, there have been two successes as the program is in its infancy, according to Van Hollen.
But it was Minnesota's crime alert network that made Van Hollen push for the program to begin in Wisconsin.
"As you all know, we have the Amber Alert program here in Wisconsin – tremendously successful in recovering abducted children and bringing them back to their parents or their guardians,” Van Hollen said. "We had a case of an individual who had abducted three of his own and was taking them out of the country, we believe to cause them harm and to perhaps take their lives. We issued an Amber Alert that was picked up by the Minnesota Crime Alert Network.
“A fax came through to a hotel desk clerk with the identification information of the abductor shortly before they checked into their hotel in northern Minnesota. Law enforcement was called and they were able to secure those children and return them home safely. If we have one case like that in the next 15 years, this will be more than worthwhile.”
Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack pledged his support to the program during the news conference and thanked the Wisconsin Department of Justice for bringing the initiative forward. The police chief also thanked Farm and Fleet and other businesses for the “great relationship” the businesses have with the police department.
“The Waukesha Police Department is fully committed to protecting the city here, including participating fully in this program,” Jack said. “… As we all know, a safe and secure community is goal number one for every community, including the City of Waukesha.”
How it Works (From a Wisconsin Department of Justice Brochure)
Law enforcement officers may issue crime alert bulletins to participating businesses and the public throughout the state.
• Specific business types can be targeted
• Specific geographic areas can be targeted
Law enforcement can specify which types of businesses are to receive a particular crime alert by selecting from 50 categories, including pharmacies, media, schools, hospitals, banks, neighborhood watch and convenience stores.
The alerts can be sent in a variety of ways:
- Text message
How to sign up
Go to http://www.wisconsincrimealert.gov and click the “sign up now” button. Membership is $12 per year.