Local

Small town police department thinks big in terms of technology

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It seems there's an online application for everything nowadays and that includes fighting crime. One local police department is using technology to keep its residents in the loop.

Magnolia, Texas has a population of just 1,400. It may not be a large city, but it's big in the way it's approaching 21st century police work.

"It's critical for us to be able to give them information that is contemporary," said Magnolia Police Chief Domingo Ibarra.

Through the use of two new online systems, Magnolia PD can release or gather information almost instantly.

One of the sites is called Safe Town. Magnolia was the first in the state to use its interactive crime mapping technology and share it with the public the minute the incident reports are approved.

Chief Ibarra said, "It really doesn't matter what your demographics are. What matters is what your philosophy is. If in your philosophy you want to be transparent, you're going to look for ways to communicate openly with the public."

Nixle is another site Magnolia employs.

"Nixle allows us to reach out to our community at the click of a button," explained James Senegal with the Magnolia Police Department.

It allows anyone to sign up for email or text messages that alert users to dangerous weather, traffic problems or situations like the one a few months ago when a train collided with an 18-wheeler in town.

Soon those alerts will go to traditional phone lines for residents who aren't high-tech.

On Safe Town, residents will able to leave anonymous tips.

Senegal said, "With that anonymous tip, we're able to have a two-way dialogue without ever revealing who that citizen is and retrieve whatever information may be available to us from that citizen."

It's a small town police department, trying to do some big things.

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