October 17, 2008 By News Report
The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) announced yesterday the launch of DC Police Alert, which enables the MPD to send crime alert text messages in real-time to businesses about crimes committed in their neighborhood. The launch was held at the mayor's press conference at PNC Bank in Georgetown.
Through the Roam Secure Alert Network (RSAN), the MPD are able to send real-time crime information via e-mail and text messages to cell phones, Blackberry, pagers and other devices to businesses to help deter crime and catch criminals. RSAN is a product of Roam Secure Inc., DBA Cooper Notification.
To be aware of crimes and help protect their organizations, business owners and employees can subscribe to DC Police Alert for free by submitting their contact information and registering their business address. The 72hours.dc.gov Web site provides one-stop shopping for preparedness information and is the site to sign up for Alert DC emergency and DC Police Alert messages. Once on the site, users can click on the Alert DC logo and register for the program.
When a crime is reported in their area, MPD officers will send a text message via e-mail and cell phones to participating businesses, alerting them that a crime has been committed and providing them with a description of the alleged perpetrator. Business users should call 911 with relevant follow up information.
"This is part of a collaborative effort to proactively engage the community by giving them real time information about what is happening in their neighborhoods," said Chief of Police Cathy Lanier.
DC Police Alert messages can include information about robberies, assaults, shoplifting, missing persons, auto theft and violent crime. Details of a crime can be difficult to ascertain at first glance; follow-up messages will be sent to provide additional details such as the physical description of the assailant and when and where he or she was last seen.
"When a local business was robbed and police were only able to canvass surrounding businesses three days after the event, a group of us, including local leaders and business owners, decided we needed to develop a method to help stop crime," said Nick Wasylczuk, owner of Just Paper & Tea. The group recognized the potential to expand the use of Alert DC by sending text alerts about criminal activity to the local business community, advising them of the event and asking for any information that could help police in the investigation. "Now the process takes minutes, not days," added Wasylczuk. "It provides us with the opportunity to protect our business and keep our eyes open for any information that can be passed along to police."
"Emergency and public safety officials are now expanding how they use their RSAN emergency notification systems to help reduce crime," said David Drescher, general manager, Roam Secure DBA Cooper Notification. "By using RSAN as its real-time crime alerting platform, combined with Cooper Notification's consulting expertise supporting the program, MPD is immediately putting thousands of additional eyes and ears on the streets looking for suspects today."