ENGLEWOOD — In an effort to get Chicagoans more involved with fighting crime, the Chicago Police Department is making it easier for residents to document and report incidents through cellphones and social media.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced the changes at the Englewood District police station Monday, where he laid out changes to 911, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program and the department's Twitter feeds.
The department plans to add separate Twitter feeds in a pilot program in the Englewood, Harrison and Near North districts that will announce CAPS meetings, share information about missing persons and post community alerts about burglaries or other crimes in the districts. It also plans to stream beat meetings online and allow residents to send in photos from their phones when calling 911 to report a crime.
"We all have a role to play," McCarthy said. He added that the digital initiatives were designed for the "revitalization" of the CAPS program and "improving our communication with the community."
"These new tools are an important step forward for the Chicago Police Department and for the city,” McCarthy said. "Our comprehensive policing strategy involves much more than policing alone, and by continuing to improve our communications with residents, we will continue to foster stronger relationships that will benefit all of Chicago."
The Twitter feeds will eventually be expanded citywide and come as part of a completely redesigned Chicago Police Department website that will enable beat meetings to be streamed online and made interactive for residents from their homes or workplaces. McCarthy said Boston proved how Twitter could help law enforcement after the marathon bombing earlier this year.
Residents calling 911 from a cellphone also can add photos. They're advised to tell the 911 call taker that they have a photo, and they'll then be sent a prompt message to send the photo to the Crime Prevention and Information Center. They'll also be warned that they "should not put themselves in jeopardy to take photos of crimes in progress."
"This will help our responding officers," McCarthy said.
Residents also now can text police tips by entering 274637 (CRIMES) in the "To" line, then "CPD" and a space followed by the tip in the message box. Chicago Police will receive the automatic message, and McCarthy insisted that "text a tip" will be anonymous, and no identity will be attached to the message.
The additions are intended to enhance community policing through CAPS.
"Police are the backbone of public safety, but we all have a role to play in continuing to reduce crime and violence," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a news release. "With today’s announcement, residents will have new tools available to connect with police and access important information about their community."