Rock County joins Wisconsin Crime Alert Network
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is hosting a new electronic messaging system that will send alerts from law enforcement agencies to other agencies as well as the public. You can sign up to get text messages, emails or faxes at your home or business. Only trained police officers and detectives can send alerts. Be aware that alerts are sent by county, not city or neighborhood, so if you sign up, you’ll get all the alerts from Rock or Walworth counties. Subscriptions cost $12 per year. Learn more at wisconsincrimealert.gov.
JANESVILLE Rock County business owners and residents who want to protect their property can sign up to get alerts about local crimes from investigators at the Janesville Police Department and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.
The Wisconsin Crime Alert Network allows police to send information about crimes or crime trends to other police departments or members of the public. Hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, local departments do not have to pay to participate. Members of the public pay a fee to subscribe.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The state developed the program to allow specially trained law enforcement agents to communicate information about ongoing crime or crime trends with each other and specific segments of the public. Only law enforcement agents can enter information and send alerts.
The program will improve communication between departments and with the public, said Capt. Gary Groelle with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.
“Its goal is to make people and other law enforcement agencies aware of a crime that just happened and that we’re trying to resolve it or solve it,” Groelle said.
2. It’s easy and effective for police, said Sgt. Brian Donohoue with the Janesville Police Department. Janesville investigators have sent out two alerts in about two weeks of testing the program, he said. One was to alert the public of a missing person; the other included a description and an ATM photo of a man suspected of stealing a purse at Walmart.
The state is maintaining the program, and the labor for local departments in minimal, he said.
“We’re not going to stop making press releases or doing our part,” Donohoue said. “This will just be another tool.”
3. To sign up, you’ll need a valid email address, and you’ll need to create a password. You can pay the $12 annual fee by debit or credit card. You’ll be asked the nature of your business, if applicable, as well as the county in which you’re located. Once you have registered and paid, you can add up to four “devices” to receive alerts. That could be four email addresses, four cellular phones (for text messages) or four fax machines.
4. Word to the wise: The email address you use to register is not automatically included in the four-device limit. That email will be your user name, so choose carefully if you are signing up a group of neighbors or coworkers.
5. Members of the public cannot enter information into the Wisconsin Crime Network. If you have information about a crime, you can call Janesville Area CrimeStoppers at (608) 756-3636. Don’t bother looking it up on the network first, Donohoue said.
“Call us,” Donohoue said. “We’ll determine what’s going on.”