Police department enters cyber age
As computers and the Internet become more important in the daily lives of people everywhere, law enforcement agencies are realizing that the Internet is a good way to get information out to the citizens they serve and protect every day.
The Cottonwood Police Department has had Web site in operation for about five years. The site can be found at http://www.cottonwoodpd.org and offers information and links for the public to use.
"A lot of times it would be stuff they would have to call for," said Sergeant Jack Stapleton, who is in charge of regularly updating the site.
He said the site has gotten a lot of positive feed back from those who visit it. The guest book allows anyone at the site to leave comments.
"We get visitors from all over the place," Stapleton said.
He said law enforcement Web sites are important and serve a purpose to the public.
"Anything we can do to get information out to the people is a positive thing," Stapleton said.
He said there are no current plans to expand the site, but they are always trying to update information on the site.
"We’ll just do our best to keep it current," Stapleton said.
He said the site is updated as new information comes in, but usually the employment section is updated the most often.
There have been no problems with hackers or technology so far. Stapleton said running the site and keeping it updated takes effort.
"It just requires time. Sometimes we don’t update as often." Stapleton said.
Cottonwood’s site offers Web surfers information on police patrol, investigation units in the department, special duties and tips on community safety.
The site also has links to other law enforcement sites, which Stapleton said are among some of the sites officers use themselves.
A "How do I…" section of the site tells visitors how to request a police report or report an accident, how to have fingerprints taken and how to report crimes or medical emergencies.
Frequently asked questions offers information on curfew hours, car seats, getting a street light repaired, what to do in a power outage, where to check for road conditions and what to do after receiving a traffic ticket.
The site also offers tips for seniors on how to avoid telemarketer fraud and ideas on home security.
The Sedona Police Department also has a Web site. It contains the department’s mission statement, crime prevention tips, animal control information, links and job openings in the department.
Located at http://www.city.sedona.net/pddept.htm, the page is part of the city's larger site. Aaron Seifert, GIS analyst for Sedona, is in charge of the site and says there are plans for expanding it.
He said the city has recently hired someone to work on the site and the city's internal databases.
"It could be within half a year that everything will be re-organized and overhauled," Seifert said.
He said the plans for the site include getting more information for visitors and more computer interaction for police officers. Seifert said officers should soon be able to complete reports on-line rather than writing everything out on paper.
The site has had few technical problems but once it expands security will be an issue, he said.
"It will really be a concern once we get more information on there," Seifert said.
He said he works on updating the site about twice a month and while the future holds a lot for the Web site, right now the police portion of the site basically holds a lot of good general information.
He said the site has been most useful as a resource that officers can recommend people go to for information. They can access phone numbers and get information on many police programs from the site.