Clanton Police Department unveils new websiteBy Stephen Dawkins Published 9:59am Friday, April 4, 2014
Clanton Police Department officials hope a new agency website will make needed information more accessible for residents.
“We get about 200 phone calls a day,” CPD Capt. Neil Fetner said. “A lot of that information we wanted to put out on the web for people.”
Fetner led the effort and began by studying other police sites across the country to see what information they made available and what format they used.
“If it’s not easy to use, people won’t use it, and then your message gets lost,” Fetner said.
Under the “About Us” section, the site contains a message from Chief Brian Stilwell, a message from Deputy Chief Keith Maddox, a “core values” statement, a code of ethics, diversity statement, department history, department goals and answers to frequently asked questions.
Also, a “Meet our staff” link takes users to a directory, where all members of the department can be found along with their division, rank and phone number. Clicking on a name pulls up a brief biography of each officer.
The “Divisions” heading on the site’s menu bar allows users to see the department broken down into the Patrol, Detectives and Administrative divisions, along with the various units that comprise each division.
Clicking on the name of a unit brings up a brief description.
Under the “Public Information” heading on the menu bar, users can find links to annual crime statistics. Statistics from the last three years are shown, so residents can see what types of crimes the department has handled, and what are the trends in different categories.
Planned additions to the “Public Information” section include an annual report from the chief, a legislative update and other useful information.
CPD.org also provides links to resources such as Clanton Municipal ordinances, court calendar, weather, the Alabama Department of Public Safety, the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and a sex offender search page.
Also in this section is a link to a service that allows residents to pay court-imposed fines online for cases that don’t include a mandatory court appearance.
Under the “Contact Us” section, residents can fill out a survey about the department submit a comment on an officer, whether a commendation or complaint.
“It gives the public a way to air grievances with the leadership here at the department, so we can better serve the public,” Fetner said.
Also, choosing “Contact Us” brings up a form where users can email an officer or unit, or request records or extra patrols (for example, when a resident planned to be away from home for a period of time).
“This is just a way for the public to let the police department know about stuff that’s going on without picking up the phone and calling dispatch,” Fetner said.
Residents can also report a crime through the website, by filling out a form and even attaching a photography, if applicable.
Fetner said this feature should offer convenience for residents who need to file a report that wouldn’t necessarily require an officer’s presence. So, instead of trying to find a time to meet an officer, a resident can file a report with a few clicks.
“It’s a matter of convenience for them,” Fetner said but stressed that not every type of crime could be reported online. “Everybody’s got a smart phone; everybody’s got an iPad; everybody’s got a tablet.”
The site provides a link to the department’s Flickr photo gallery and Facebook page.
Lastly, a link to “CrimeReports” can be found at the top of the homepage. This is a resource where users can see incidents handled by the department plotted on a map of the city.
Alerts can be set up to notify users when crimes are reported in certain areas, and the plotted incidents are sortable by date range.
Fetner said the focus of the new site is a better exchange of information between the department and the people it serves.
“We want them to be able to give us information, but we also want to be able to get back with them and give them the information they need,” he said. “Communication is the key to success.”
The Clanton Fraternal Order of Police, Smith Dale Lodge 31, will screen the movie at 7 p.m. June 20 to raise money for a local Christmas toy drive, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Alabama’s Officers Memorial.