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ISSUE 116 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/27/2002

Law enforcement officials linking online

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer


Friday, September 27, 2002

Security issues have been brought to the table nationwide this past year. Law enforcement agencies across state of Minnesota have linked together in an effort to promote crime prevention in the form of a website. The Minnesota-based website, CitizenObserver.com, continues to gain both local and national attention for their efforts in crime prevention since going live Aug. 8, 2001. The idea behind this nationally recognized website started as the result of a domestic abuse case in St. Paul when a man attempted to murder his estranged wife. The victims son, Scott Roberts, used the CitizenObserver.com domain name, which belonged to long time friend John Jordan, to create a website that published photographs and information about the case and automatically sent it to the St. Paul Officer that was handling the case. After the website gained national attention, the suspect was caught and later convicted of attempted first and second-degree murder. Cited as one of the top-ten crime prevention websites on Yahoo, Citizen Observer.com is credited with providing communities with a way for law enforcement agencies in different cities to communicate with their city and businesses. Information about fugitives, missing persons, unsolved crimes, break-ins and much more can be published on Citizen-Observer.com. Currently six states including Ark., Ill., Mich., Minn., N.D., and Wis. are connected to CitizenObserver.com. In Minnesota alone, almost 60 cities are using the tools developed by CitizenObserver.com. The idea has been brought to Washington. The website is free to its users and can be supported without the use of tax dollars through a local advertising sponsorship program. In the Northwest Metro, Prime Advertising and Design, located in Maple Grove, Minn., has partnered with CitizenObserver and has been instrumental in providing the sales force necessary to handle the business sponsorships that fund this project in the cities they already have a presence in. Prime Advertising works closely with the chambers of eight metro cities to publish a community guide for each of the cities. Internet Tools CitizenObserver has developed valuable Internet tools for more efficient and effective communication between law enforcement agencies. Such tools include Crime Prevention Group Tools which allows a particular police department to share with their community all of the things they do to help prevent crime in their community. In addition, the police department can also post crime prevention tips, and discuss important community issues through the message board. Like Roberts posted the information on his mothers case, CitizenObserver also offers advocate tools that allow victims families to help them gain attention for their individual case. Similarly, another tool, the Fugitives, Missing Persons, and Unsolved Cases database allows law enforcement agencies to enter their information regarding such cases. The value of such tools has proven to be a success for many communities. Last December, a local newspaper in Fairmont, Minn. published an article about the Fairmonts Police Departments involvement in CitizenObserver.com. Shortly after the paper was printed an adult female turned herself into the Fairmont police after learning that her picture was listed on the Fairmont Most Wanted list. Three more suspects were found within the coming weeks. Greg Brolsma, Police Chief of Fairmont, is excited about his communitys involvement in CitizenObserver. We are hoping to accomplish further interaction with the community that helps us solve a variety of crime problems. One of our major goals is to get as many people to register, so that we can provide some timely crime prevention details that effectively reduce the victimization of our residents through Crime Alert features, said Brolsma. CitizenOberserver.com allows not only citizens to register to receive information, but also businesses. The Business Alert Network sends alerts to participating businesses in the area via e-mail, cell phone, page or by fax. This is a resourceful way for law enforcement to communicate with businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently, 25,000 businesses are registered on the website to receive alerts. Success Vice President of Business Development at CitizenObserver, Robert Swedeen, is excited about the recent media attention that their website is receiving. Just recently, CitizenObserver received a congressional letter stating that all Minnesotan members of Congress agreed, in writing, that they like what CitizenObserver.com is providing for the law enforcement agencies in the state of Minnesota and support an initiative to launch a statewide school alert system using CitizenObserver technology. The Department of Education is reviewing a grant proposal from the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association to support this initiative. Likewise, college campuses are beginning to also use the tools. South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill. is the first campus to utilize the tools. Faculty and students will now be alerted immediately if there are campus crimes.





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