Huntersville Police Department is offering a Web-based alert system for area residents and businesses that want to stay connected to vital information.
Citizen Observer is a notification system that uses emails and text messages to alert homeowner associations, individuals and area businesses about crimes and emergency information, said Sgt. Tom Seifert.
“It’s another tool we’re trying to reach out and get a better partnership with our residents and communities in Huntersville,” he said.
Since the department started the program in March, Seifert said, they were able to alert citizens about the emergency road repairs the North Carolina Department of Transportation made to N.C. 73 on March 15. The work caused lane closures and required detours.
Seifert said the Valentine’s Day robbery of a Huntersville pharmacy would have been a great opportunity to notify other similar businesses in the area about criminal activity. “That incident was linked to other similar types of crime in Hickory. If you were an independent pharmacy, a supermarket with a pharmacy, that would have been something we’d be able to alert them about.”
Seifert said a number of departments around the region also use this platform – Matthews, Indian Trail, Greenville, Shelby, among others – and noted one of the most unique aspects is that citizens can anonymously report crime information to police via text message.
As the department has received information from the community survey sent out in February, Seifert said, one request was to be able to give tips anonymously.
“(Citizen Observer) also has a crime-mapping area, you go in, and it gives a person the opportunity to view crime data on a Google-maps-type link.”
Huntersville Police Chief Philip Potter said the service costs about $2,900 annually and noted the department has signed up for a two-year subscription.
The department previously used the system around 2008, Seifert said, but discontinued the service “because we weren’t using it at the time, we were trying to go a different route.” But now, in a time when social media is so prevalent, Seifert said he expects the program will be more effective.
“I think we’re going to use it more efficiently and promote it better to get people on there,” Seifert said, noting the service isn’t limited to those who live in Huntersville.
“Everyone in town could sign up … and anyone who’d commute through. If you’re a business owner and don’t live in town,” he said.
“It’s another social media tool to get out and in touch with people in the community.”
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter @htrenda
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less