Rockford Police move away from alert system right before violent - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Police move away from alert system right before violent week

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Chief Chet Epperson (left) and Deputy Chief Lori Sweeney at monthly compstat meeting. Chief Chet Epperson (left) and Deputy Chief Lori Sweeney at monthly compstat meeting.
Lt. Pat Hoey looks at Rockford Police Department's Facebook page. Lt. Pat Hoey looks at Rockford Police Department's Facebook page.
Quadruple shooting that left two dead on Woodlawn Avenue on Tuesday night. Quadruple shooting that left two dead on Woodlawn Avenue on Tuesday night.
Double shooting left one man dead and another seriously hurt on Arcadia Terrace. Double shooting left one man dead and another seriously hurt on Arcadia Terrace.
Shooting scene on Woodlawn Avenue. Shooting scene on Woodlawn Avenue.
ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Shortly before this last week of violence that has included multiple homicides and shootings started, Rockford Police moved away from a text and email alert system. Department brass decided to move away from Nixle alerts. Police eventually plan to put almost all incident information on social media, but that move has not happened.

For the last three years in Rockford, a system that sends text messages or emails for government agencies like the police called Nixle has been one of the first sources of information. It's often a way to tell what's real or rumor. Right now that's missing.

"We are creating a police blotter on our webpage and we had a meeting and city IT is creating that for us," says Lt. Patrick Hoey, Rockford Police Department, public information officer.

However, it is not up and running. In the past the Rockford Police Department sent out messages like this it let people in northwest Rockford know there was a stand-off in their neighborhood last month. The last Nixle "alert" went out June 27. The department's Facebook page launched 10 days earlier.

"The main reason the chief wanted to do this was we were putting information out whether it was being Nixle or press releases and relying on the mainstream media to publicize these events. Well this way when we have a Facebook page we can put that same information out ourselves and reach just as big a base of people," says Lt. Hoey.

During this last week of violence with six homicides in six days, police put out information regarding one of the incidents. That was the hit-and-run on Saturday that left a  man dead. In one 48-hour period, police handled a double shooting, a beating death, a15-year-old shot in the head and a quadruple shooting. During that window, the Facebook page included a burglary advisory, a message to call police about suspicious activity, reminders about a fundraiser and the monthly compstat meeting, among others.

Police say their Facebook page is meant to have a broader impact than the Nixle system could.

"We can regulate what stories we want to put out and we can publicize not only crime but engage in conversations on whether it be crime trends, on safety tips, things that are going on," says Lt. Hoey.

Rockford Police say the Nixle alert will still be used but in emergencies like power outages, traffic backups and flooding.

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