The New Haven Police Department is creating an online database of e-mail addresses designed to alert city residents and business owners about crime trends and to provide descriptions of dangerous suspects in their neighborhoods.
By using the Flash Alert Notifications, or FAN, system, police administrators can e-mail residents in each of New Haven’s 10 policing districts, providing them with crime analysis trends and monthly crime statistics for their district.
Until now, police administrators were only able to provide neighborhood block watchers with such information, said officer Joe Avery, creator of the FAN system.
“I devised this system to be able to reach people who don’t belong to block watch programs and neighborhood management groups,” said Avery, head of the neighborhood services unit. “I watched a documentary and they had a fax alert program for businesses and that’s what gave me the idea. I thought this would be an easy way to get the word out.”
The network was first used two weeks ago when Citizens Bank on Church Street was robbed. Avery said he used the FAN system to alert other downtown banks and give them a description of the suspect.
“The banks thought it was wonderful,” Avery said. “If we inform the neighborhoods as to what’s going on, they tend to open their eyes and work with us. It helps us police the neighborhood.”
Don Scoopo, manager of Tyco Copy Center on Elm Street, said the program will be beneficial to New Haven business owners because it will help them deter potential burglaries.
“[It’s important] to be aware of any crime sprees going on because you can never be too safe,” Scoopo said. “[We] haven’t ever had a problem, knock on wood.”
Although campus crime is down by nearly 16 percent, it is still important for Yalies to have immediate information about crime trends, Andrea McKenna ’06 said.
“I think we deserve to know when crimes are committed in our community so that we can prevent them from happening again,” McKenna said.
Avery said the program gets back to the basic concept of the block watch program, with “people looking out for each other and knowing what’s going on.”
Police departments from across the state are interested in starting similar programs in their cities, Avery said. With over 1,500 e-mail addresses in the database, Avery said he expects to add thousands more in the coming weeks.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Avery said. “I have to enter these [e-mail addresses] into address books in my system. But I’m doing it, I’m handling it.”