No-serve list part of larger police strategy to publicize names of troublemakers

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Frank Schultz
Saturday, March 8, 2014

JANESVILLE—Janesville police publish names of people it considers troublemakers.

Sound familiar?

The no-serve list, initiated last year, is one of a series of Janesville police initiatives different from police tactics a generation ago. Consider:

-- Digital billboard ads show people wanted by police, complete with huge mugshots.

-- Project Sober Streets is a website that maps the homes of Janesville residents who have been convicted of intoxicated driving five or more times, with the last conviction occurring within the last five years. 

-- Nixle, an app that sends notices via Twitter or email, is used by a number of local law enforcement agencies. Janesville police use it to notify subscribers of breaking news but also for “wanted” notices.

-- Sex-offender mapping, a state project, was enhanced at the urging of Janesville police to make it easier to identify neighbors who have been sex offenders.

Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said the efforts are part of a broader policing philosophy that has gained traction nationwide in recent years. it's called problem-based policing.

“Gone are the days of just responding to the same calls over and over again and not trying get down to core issues and the core problems,” Moore said.

The department works to identify problems and focus resources on those problems, Moore said.

Moore acknowledges listing names of people who have not been convicted of anything can deprive them of their privacy, but he says it's worth it in some cases to prevent crime and save tax dollars.

Other problem-oriented initiatives include closely working with neighborhood groups, officers walking beats in some areas, and liaison committees that keep communications open with African-Americans and Latinos.

For example, federal immigration agents were in Janesville last month. Typically, this prompts rumors among Latinos that make the situation larger and more sinister than it is, Moore said.

Police sent an email to the Latino advisory committee and said the federal agents had picked up a one bad guy and locked him up, Moore said. The timely information avoids distrust, Moore said.

Another way to reach out is a survey the department sent to residents five years ago. A new survey is in the works for sometime this year. Questions included how safe residents feel in the various neighborhoods.

Police learned from the first survey that many people believed police were not doing enough to address drug problems.

"We believe we were doing a lot more than the community knew,” Moore said, so police now make a point of publicizing drug raids and arrests.

Previously, residents knew a lot of police showed up at a neighbor's house but not much more. Now, within a few days after a executing a search warrant, police meet with neighbors and tell them what happened, what was found, and what next steps will be, Moore said.

Last updated: 9:57 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

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