The department has added a cell phone in their dispatch office to allow citizens to text information or tips to the police. The text number is 205-234-5045.
“The purpose is to allow an additional avenue of communication and access to the police department for the citizens,” Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr said. “Texting has become a way of life for most people.”
Other cities have tried this with success, finding that many people or business owners will text information that they wouldn’t have called or come to the department to give. It also keeps personnel and phone lines from being tied up with non-emergency situations. These situations can be suspicious people, suspected criminal activity, the possibility of hazardous conditions or just information someone needs to share with the police.
The department has also recently launched a Facebook page that will be used to share information about activities regarding the department, information that may impact the citizens or criminal activity in certain neighborhoods.
“It’s another way to disseminate information,” Karr said. “We hope to eventually have warrant and other information available on there.”
Mayor Petey Ellis, the city council, Police Chief T.J. Burnett and Karr have been working together to increase the public’s access to the department, as well as to refocus the officers and personnel on being service-oriented with the residents and businesses in the city. They hope that opening up these two new lines of communication will help to accomplish those goals.
“The phone will be kept in dispatch and monitored 24/7,” Karr said. “All our dispatchers have been trained and instructed on using text and Facebook.”