Tulsa police have initiated two new programs in recent weeks designed to improve its communication and relations with private security personnel and citizens.
The first is the NIXLE program that has been launched on the department's Web site at HYPERLINK "http://www.tulsapolice.org"www.tulsapolice.org. The program allows residents to register for crime and arrest alerts, severe weather advisories, emergency alerts, crime trends, missing-person advisories and information about public events, which they can receive via e-mail or text messages. That same information also can be accessed through the NIXLE link on the department's Web site.
Capt. Jonathan Brooks said NIXLE got a great reception even before its official launch.
"We did a demonstration period with it, and as soon as people found out about it through their neighborhood watch groups and other meeting groups, they were signing up for it," he said. "We've been getting a lot of good feedback on it."
More than 200 users had already registered by that point, Brooks said. He had no updated numbers to provide, but Brooks said it was his hope that at least a few thousand Tulsans eventually would sign up to receive NIXLE alerts.
Two of the most valuable aspects of the program are its ability to alert citizens whenever there is a spree of burglaries or violent crime in their neighborhood, or when a fugitive is spotted in their vicinity, according to Brooks.
"If there's a suspect in their neighborhood, we can advise them to lock their doors and windows, and be on the lookout," he said.
Citizens can sign up for alerts and advisories on a citywide or localized basis, such as by zip code, he said.
Brooks said another potentially valuable component of NIXLE is the ability of users to assist police. For instance, if citizens are aware there has been a burglary spree in their neighborhood during the daytime and they witness suspicious activity, they might be more inclined to report that information to police.
"That would help us solve those crimes more quickly or catch a suspect," he said.
Brooks is excited about NIXLE's potential as a crime-fighting mechanism.
"I think it can be a very effective tool. We want to encourage that two-way use," he said. "In the case of a most-wanted suspect, investigators can receive information directly from citizens. When we have that back and forth, that'll be the effectiveness of tool."
Brooks said NIXLE itself is providing the service for free, so there is no cost to the department, city or user.
The service is available to anyone with access to a computer, and it takes only a few minutes to register. Brooks said officials eventually hope to expand the program to include traffic alerts, so that if an accident snarls traffic on a local highway or at an intersection, motorists can receive real-time alerts advising them to take an alternate route.
But NIXLE does have some limitations. Brooks said users who have chosen to receive text alerts will only do so during business hours.
"We understand that some people don't want to receive text messages in the middle of the night," he said.
Even though much of the information that NIXLE will convey is available through other sources, Brooks considers it a more convenient way for citizens to keep updated on issues that concern them.
"Every bit of the feedback we've gotten has been positive," he said. "I think citizens like it, and we feel like it keeps us in better communication with them. This is for people who may not have the opportunity to turn on the TV or open the newspaper every day."
Shortly after launching the NIXLE program, the department also began a program called United for Tulsa, which is a spinoff of a federal program called Operation Cooperation. Essentially, both programs encourage partnerships between law enforcement personnel and private security officers for their mutual benefit and the enhancement of public safety.
Tulsa police introduced the program two weeks ago, and Capt. Richard Alexander of the Riverside Division said on Oct. 30 he had received calls from 16 people from six companies interested in signing up for the program.
"The broader side of that is, once they send us one name, we think they'll send us others," he said of the companies that have responded.
Alexander described the program as a small step in building a bridge between police and private security personnel.
"In the past, there was a perception that police and security were in competition for resources," he said.
Alexander said in its initial stages, the program will begin with private security officers doing a ride-along with patrol officers, perhaps for an entire eight-hour shift. The point, he said, is to improve cooperation and communication.
"A lot of times, those security officers can become our eyes and ears better than we can because they're on that property 24 hours a day," Alexander said.
Security officers who take part in the program will have their time credited toward meeting their eight-hour biennial training that is required by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, the state organization that certifies peace officers and private security personnel.
At some point, Alexander said, other components may be added to the program.
"My goal here is to improve communication and share intelligence," he said. "Once we get this going, we can move on to other areas ... but I think this can be the kickoff to something that can become a larger program."
Alexander said he's excited about the program's potential, "but I'm also somewhat reserved because these security companies have the bottom dollar they need to worry about, and I think many of them don't have the reserves to do this."
Alexander said part of the cost of the program is being offset by the Tulsa chapter of ASIS International--an organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and productivity of security professionals--which is helping cover the employer's cost of having a security officer work an eight-hour shift for a Tulsa police officer.
"But it still requires a pretty good commitment from (the companies)," he said.
Alexander said he has hopes that the program eventually will number hundreds of participants rather than dozens.
"Making the city safer cannot be done by police alone but requires the involvement and commitment of all members of the community," he said.
Share this article: