Police seek help in solving crimes by joining networkThe New Richmond Police Department is one of the newest law enforcement agencies to sign up for a state-wide crime alert program.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
The New Richmond Police Department is one of the newest law enforcement agencies to sign up for a state-wide crime alert program.
The Wisconsin Crime Alert Network was established through the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office in late 2011. The program is patterned after a similar alert network that has been functioning well in Minnesota for about 10 years. Since its beginning in Wisconsin, the network has already helped to crack several crime cases across the state.
New Richmond Police Chief Mark Samelstad said the network should help police solve crimes and keep the public safe.
“It will help us because it gets the public and businesses involved in solving some cases,” he said. “Minnesota has had this up and going for quite a while and it’s worked well.”
The network allows law enforcement agencies to send out an alert to members who have signed up for the service. Examples of possible alerts might include efforts to locate missing persons; identification of suspects in recent criminal activity; identification of vehicles involved in criminal activity; details of retail theft rings or counterfeiting scams; and others.
When an alert is sent out, individuals or businesses that have subscribed to the service can receive the information via email, text messages or fax. When dealing with tracking down suspects in criminal activity, Samelstad said it’s important to get the information into the public’s hands quickly.
“This will help us protect the community,” he said. “The more people who are involved the better.”
Four New Richmond officers completed a special training program for the network in May. Now they are able to use the system to distribute information about crimes or other situations in the area.
“We can send out an alert to the whole state or to just our immediate area,” Samelstad said. “We can customize it depending on the situation.”
Samelstad said Wisconsin is working with Minnesota officials to try and partner together so that alerts can cross state lines. Even before the states cooperate, Samelstad said he hopes to work out something with Minnesota on his own, seeing as New Richmond is so close to the border.
Anyone wishing to be included in the network must pay an annual membership fee of $12. Visit www.wisconsincrimenetwork.gov for details on signing up.
Those interested in getting involved can also attend a community presentation about the new program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, in the large forum room at the New Richmond High School.
“Anyone who wants to come is welcome,” Samelstad said. “We just want to get the word out about this program and get people signed up.”
Joe Libowsky, the state coordinator for the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, will attend the community meeting to outline the new effort and answer questions attendees may have. St. Croix County Sheriff John Shilts will also be on hand for the meeting, as the sheriff’s department is also part of the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network. The police departments in Hudson and River Falls are also involved.
A number of large retailers have already signed on to be part of the network. Kohl’s Department Store, Kwik Trip Inc., Target, Best Buy, Walgreens and Blain’s Farm and Fleet have all purchased subscriptions for their various retail locations in Wisconsin.
Other businesses that might benefit from being part of the network include antique dealers, automobile dealers, banks, convenience stores, gun dealers, motels, liquor stores, schools, trucking firms and security services.
The close relationship with businesses helps expand communication and improve safety in every corner of the state, said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.