locally owned since 1854

Middletown will join Crimewatch to help distribute police, safety information

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 10/31/18

Middletown plans to join other local communities that offer Crimewatch, an Internet-based service police departments use to provide information to — and get information from — …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Middletown will join Crimewatch to help distribute police, safety information

Posted

Middletown plans to join other local communities that offer Crimewatch, an Internet-based service police departments use to provide information to — and get information from — residents.

Borough council approved a request Oct. 22 from council member Michael Woodworth to sign up with Crimewatch.

The service costs $1,485 for the first year. However, Woodworth said the borough received a donation from a private citizen to cover a portion. The annual cost of Crimewatch goes down after the first year, Woodworth said.

Police can use Crimewatch to tell residents about crime-related incidents that have occurred in the neighborhood, such as break-ins or thefts.

Police also can post information about wanted persons, arrests and missing persons. Crimewatch has a mapping tool residents can use to see where criminal activity is occurring, Woodworth said.

Besides the website, police can use Crimewatch to push out information through social media, an app on a smart phone, and closed-circuit television, Woodworth added.

The decision to sign up with Crimewatch came out of recent discussions between borough police and the Human Relations Commission, of which Woodworth is also a member.

More than 150 police departments statewide are using Crimewatch, Woodworth said. Agencies using Crimewatch locally include the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office, and police departments in Highspire, Lower Swatara Township and Steelton.

Residents can use Crimewatch to submit a tip to police. Crimewatch also allows police to access home security cameras to help catch a criminal, if the homeowner gives permission, Middletown Interim Police Chief Sgt. Dennis Morris told council.

“It’s a tool to get the public more involved and to help us,” Morris said.

Council voted 5-2 to approve spending the money to go forward with Crimewatch. Councilors Dawn Knull and Jenny Miller voted no.

Knull during the discussion expressed concerns over how Crimewatch would affect use of Nixle, an emergency alert system the borough put in place in 2013 at Knull’s urging.

Nixle provides emergency alerts to residents who rely on a landline telephone and who don’t have a smartphone, email or Internet access, Knull pointed out.

Alerts should be sent out on both Crimewatch and Nixle simultaneously, to make sure all borough residents are covered, Councilor Ian Reddinger suggested.

The borough pays $3,000 a year for Nixle, a price good each year through December 2019. Residents can sign up for Nixle alerts through the borough website.

Other than agreeing with Knull that Nixle is needed to provide alerts to people without Internet access and smart phones, Miller did not provide a reason during the meeting for voting against Crimewatch.

Miller declined further comment when asked by the Press & Journal.