Police in Highland Park, Ill., can send e-mails to hundreds of people on their personal computers, cell phones, or electronic organizers, alerting them to everything from road closures to terror alerts, reports the Chicago Tribune. More than 660 people, including about 80 police employees, have registered to receive the free e-mail alerts since the system started in mid-December, said Police Sgt. George Pfutzenreuter. The goal is to sign up 1,000 people in the town of 31,000. Offering such e-mail notification systems is an emerging trend in law enforcement, experts say.
Departments like the systems, said a spokesman for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, because they “give you another way to get the information back out to people.” A St. Paul-based company endorsed by the police chiefs association is working with 18 Illinois communities to provide the service. The firm, Citizen Observer, solicits donations from businesses to pay for the system.
In Gurnee, Ill., the firm has raised $3,000 to pay for the setup. The first few crime alerts, such as warnings about purse snatchers in local stores, generated just one call–from a police department in Wisconsin that saw the notice.