Rock County offers new crime alerts

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Nico Savidge
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

JANESVILLE—Through text messages, emails and faxes, a new crime alert system can keep Rock County residents informed about safety issues in their area, officials say.

The county was selected to participate in the Crime Alert Pilot Program, put on by the state Department of Justice, which will let law enforcement quickly send out information to keep people safe, according to a news release.

It’s a streamlined way for authorities to share information with residents and business owners, and between law enforcement agencies, Rock County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jude Maurer said.

Participants sign up for the program and can join different groups—everything from restaurants and bars to gun dealers—according to the program’s website.

There are also categories for law enforcement agencies, airports and schools, though access to those categories is restricted.

When the sheriff’s office wants to send out alerts it targets the message by deciding which groups get them.

Authorities could use the system to tell owners of salvage yards about a string of burglaries at businesses near theirs, for instance, Maurer said. Or it could be a way to tell people when a car accident has shut down a highway, he said.

It’s an especially significant tool for law enforcement agencies, Maurer said, allowing them to share suspect descriptions, photos or evidence more quickly than traditional means such as teletypes.

As the program is rolled out in Rock County, authorities are offering a 45-day free subscription, according to the release. After that it will cost $12 per year.

Sign up by going to the sheriff’s office website, www.rocksheriff.com, and clicking the “Join our Crime Alert Network” link.

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