Boston is the latest and largest U.S. city to start a crime alert system designed to get the word out about murders, bank robberies, and other crimes to residents and businesses via e-mail, text messaging, and fax, the Associated Press reports. An estimated 1,000 people have registered since early June when the program was launched in Boston, which has seen a spike in crime over the past 18 months. Alerts are sent not only about various violent crimes, but also about trends, such as car break-ins. Specific types of businesses, such as pizza shops, can be warned of robberies.
“The idea of this is to close cases,” said Joseph Porcelli of the Boston Police Department. “What gets sent out is information that the community needs to know, or can take action on.” Cincinnati, Ft. Worth, Tx., and Durham, N.C., are among the nearly 300 communities and law enforcement agencies that use the system. The service is provided by Citizen Observer, a company based in St. Paul, Mn. “A phone tree can take hours and days. This, you can get in a matter of seconds,” said Sgt. Eric E. Franz of the Cincinnati Police Department.