'Area's most wanted' on courthouse television
JANESVILLE What it is: A closed-circuit television that shows names and photographs of Rock County's most-wanted criminals, missing people and local public safety announcements.
The TV runs off a wireless computer that is updated constantly using an offsite computer run by a vendor.
The TV also shows the weather, has local announcements and has a ticker of news stories from The Gazette that runs across the bottom of the screen.
The system, which was installed and is run through a partnership by the Janesville and Beloit police departments and the Rock County Sheriff's Office and Janesville-based technology vendors J.R. Media and Novak Networx.
The system is being paid for by money from Janesville and Beloit CrimeStoppers, officials said.
The system is similar to the half-dozen roadside marquees that the Janesville Police Department has set up around town that show the faces and names of local wanted criminals.
Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan, who led the effort to get the TV installed, said the idea was to find a cost-effective way to help Rock County police departments get more leads on missing and wanted people and more arrests in open criminal cases.
Sullivan said that each law enforcement agency in Rock County has dozens if not hundreds of open bail-jumping cases—people charged with crimes who either don't show up for court appearances or don't comply with conditions of their bond.
"With limited manpower, it's just not feasible to chase those hundreds of cases down at all times," Sullivan told The Gazette.
The new TV monitor helps police set up an investigation network without a great expense of time or resources. It's placed on a wall right outside the courthouse's jury room.
Police view the area as a hotspot, Sullivan said, because it has a lot of traffic by people who know and associate with local criminals, plus dozens of prosecutors and people facing criminal charges going in and out of the courtroom every week.
Sullivan said the TV went online last week, and already it's netted leads and arrests on several open cases. In one criminal case, a district attorney came walking out of the jury room, glanced at the "most wanted" TV and recognized a wanted woman he'd seen before in court.
Police and the district attorney were able to trace the woman to Rhode Island, Sullivan said.