There’s no replacement for good, old-fashioned police work, but new technology is helping Wilmington’s finest do their jobs even better.
The Wilmington Police Department launched Nixle, a web-based, emergency alert system, earlier this month. Designed for law enforcement, the program allows the WPD to instantly send targeted messages to those who live and work in specific neighborhoods.
“[Nixle] will do a traditional press release, send emails … send text messages out, send landline, reverse 911-type, calls, cell-phone calls, and it’ll also post to social media – Facebook and Twitter – all with one step,” WPD Spokesman Cpl. Mark Ivey said.
More than 7,000 public safety agencies around the country use Nixle, including several in Delaware.
Worth the cost
Prior to its implementation, Ivey said the department’s former landline-based program took significantly more time to send out police news, because each step was performed separately. In addition, the work could only be performed from a specific computer in the chief of police’s office.
“[It’s] a problem if you need to send messages out on the weekend, or off-hours or time when you’re not sitting at that computer,” Ivey said. “The other problem is a lot of people don’t have land lines anymore.”
Nixle will cost the department $16,200 a year for the next three years. It costs twice as much as the department’s old system, but Ivey said the texting capability alone justified the expense. Of all the people who have cell phones, Ivey said, more than 50 percent own smartphones.
“They’re using text messaging more than ever and we need to be part of that,” he said. People expect and the public deserves information at their fingertips.”
With the public’s growing reliance on texting, Ivey hopes people will feel more comfortable texting tips or information that could help detectives in their investigations. Ivey noted all texts are anonymous and cannot be traced.
“The company Nixle guarantees this by bouncing your number, your signal, and washing it, so to speak, through several different servers all over the country,” Ivey said.
Ivey hopes by providing more ways to communicate, police officers can build trust with those living and working in the communities they serve.
“The key to any relationship, any strong relationship, is open communication. So the more avenues of communication we have as a police department, the more likely we are to build a strong relationship with the community,” he said.
So far, more than 1,322 Wilmington residents have registered. Ivey emphasized that Nixle does not replace 911 for reporting emergencies.
How to register
In order to receive neighborhood alerts, residents must first register in one of two ways:
Text your zip code to 888777
Register through nixle.com, where you can customize how and when you receive alerts
Once registered, residents can respond to police text alerts directly.
However, residents do not need to register with Nixle to send in anonymous tips. Simply text “Tip Wilmington,” followed by the message, to 888777.