Shelby Township Police Department to introduce new online platform

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 21, 2020

 The Shelby Township Police Department is working on releasing a new online platform to the public Oct. 1 that will allow residents to interact with the department in a variety of ways.

The Shelby Township Police Department is working on releasing a new online platform to the public Oct. 1 that will allow residents to interact with the department in a variety of ways.

Photo provided by Shelby Township Police Department

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Police Department is working on releasing a new online platform to the public Oct. 1 that will allow residents to resume interaction with the department with more available to them.

The platform, called Crimewatch, is a website and app that is a secure engagement technology specifically designed for law enforcement and the communities they serve.

With Crimewatch, residents will be able to do things like register their camera systems, submit anonymous tips directly to the divisions responsible for the investigations, make online form submissions for common requests, view promotions of community events and messages, and more.

Officer Leslie Heisler, of the Shelby Township Police Department, said the platform is a way for the department to start communicating with the public in a better way than before.

“It’s a super cool platform that is going to allow us to communicate with the community again but also has a lot of added functionality like online crime reporting, camera registry, online service requests and much more,” she said.

The new platform, which will cost about $12,000 a year, should make it easier for residents to locate what they’re looking for, whether it’s an officer or an item.

“It’s a one-stop shop. It’s better than it was on social media because the community can contact the person they need directly instead of trying to go through messaging or posts that can be missed. We will be sharing everything that is posted on Crimewatch through Facebook and Twitter, but we will not be interacting with those platforms directly,” she said.

Heisler said the department is excited to be able to offer this new technology to the community and to be back online with more to offer.

“We are really excited about it. There are so many new functions that are really going to help us communicate more easily and effectively with the community,” Heisler said.

She said Shelby Township is the first police department locally to be putting the new platform to use.

“We are the first department in Michigan to implement the platform, but we suspect that once departments see how effective it is, there will be more local departments to follow,” she said.

Many residents might have been utilizing Crimemapping.com to view recent crimes in the area. This program will still be used, but the department will be focusing on the new platform for everything.

“Crimewatch has a mapping component to it, but we won’t likely use it initially because we have the Crimemapping service provided for free through CLEMIS,” said Heisler. CLEMIS stands for Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System.

Crimewatch has a component where residents and businesses can register their camera systems with the Police Department so that, in the event that police are looking for evidence in their area, they would know there is a system there and who to contact.

Crimewatch also gives the department the ability to take online reports for those instances where someone needs a police report but doesn’t need to see a police officer right away.

The department can also put out a missing person’s or wanted person’s information to all of their channels, and then “pull it back” when they locate or arrest the individual and archive social media posts.

Heisler said that another good part of the platform is the ability to send out instant notifications.

“One of the best parts is that people can sign up for SMS message notification or email notification, so when we post something (especially an emergency broadcast), that message goes out not to just select social media sites that people use, but also to our media contacts, SMS, email and the Crimewatch app all at one time,” she said.

The department quit using Facebook and Instagram a few months ago after receiving posts containing foul language and threats in the wake of posts by the police chief on a personal account that offended people. Heisler said the department is excited to be able to reconnect with the community.

“We are really excited about being able to reconnect with our residents in a meaningful way. The last few months have certainly taught us that there are better ways to do a lot of the things that we do. We hope that the implementation of Crimewatch is one of those better ways,” said Heisler.

Sgt Brandon Dowty said the software is being used to enhance transparency and open communication with the public to get information out quickly and efficiently.

“Crimewatch unifies our message across multiple platforms and electronic delivery methods, enabling us to get emergency information out to the community very quickly and efficiently. This is important, especially when dealing with rapidly evolving situations like weather emergencies, traffic closures and ongoing criminal activity. Information can be shared out to media, across social media and to individual community members via text and email with the touch of a button. This streamlines our processes, opens lines of communication and effectively engages a greater percentage of our community,” he said.

Crimewatch enables the department to maintain control of the data it sends out and monitor its effectiveness in community outreach efforts and the solving of crimes.  

“Crimewatch is designed specifically for use by law enforcement agencies, with the goal of accountability, transparency and community service at the forefront of its development. Anonymous tips, citizen compliments and complaints, and other information can be submitted directly through the Crimewatch application, ensuring that the information is promptly disseminated and reaches the right hands every time,” he said.

Dowty said that, at this time, it is essential that the department and the community are able to communicate and work together to build the community and move forward together.

“The need for engagement with and trust from our community has never been more apparent and necessary. This platform will open up lines of communication and avenues of service that we have been unable to attain in the past.

He said the department looks forward to being able to provide even more services in the future.

“The services provided by Crimewatch evolve at no additional cost as needs are identified, and we fully expect to be able to implement more services and better share information with our community with less manpower effort and greater transparency,” said Dowty.

For more information or to view an example of an active community that uses the platform, visit crimewatch.net/us/va/culpeper-county/culpeper-pd/117322.

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