A patch of 100 red dots roughly form the outline of Hall County on the sheriff’s office’s new citizen information page, with each marking a probation violation, a burglary, an assault and many more reports.
The map is part of the Sheriff to Citizen online suite of tools unveiled Wednesday, Sept. 11.
“The Hall County Sheriff’s Office has come a very long way in a short period of time when it comes to technology,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement. “Sheriff to Citizen just makes sense in the information-driven world we live in. I think our community will find it useful, easy to use and valuable in keeping up with what our deputies are responding to on a daily basis. The public has always had access to the information, but the site places it within easy reach. I invite the community to browse its functions and put it to use.”
The Sheriff to Citizen is the latest update as part of the department’s records management system and jail management system overhaul.
The Sheriff’s Office split from the Hall County Comprehensive Justice Information System, which linked jail and arrest information to the Hall County court system.
That system was first implemented in the 1980s.
The Sheriff’s Office is now using Superion’s ONESolution Records Management System, Jail Management System and Mobile Field Reporting.
The tools have been up and running for the past few weeks, including a daily bulletin of incidents, the jail inmate list and an event search function.
“If they are interested in something in their neighborhood, they don’t have to come up here to the sheriff’s office and meet with a clerk and explain what information they’re trying to get,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said of citizens interested in incidents surrounding their homes.
Events are searchable through the last 30 days.
The web tool also allows people to report an incident if it falls in seven categories: lost property, theft, theft from vehicle, vandalism, phone harassment, criminal trespass and issues concerning a license plate or decal.
Each offense category is defined and accompanied with examples, and the Sheriff’s Office stressed it is for non-emergency incidents.
“Online crime reporting is something that I wanted us to go to when I first came in to office, but we didn’t have the infrastructure and technology. Especially since about last fall, we’ve been drinking from a firehose as far as technology-wise. This is just another avenue for citizens to report a non-violent, non-confrontational type of crime,” Couch said.
If people start using the tool, Couch said he hopes it will save resources for the department.
“They can actually concentrate more on patrol and answering more serious offenses. That’s my hope with this. A lot of agencies across the nation have had online crime reporting, and we fell behind in technology for quite some time,” Couch said.
When a person finishes a self-reported incident, the information goes to a deputy for review.
“If we can get the community to take hold of this one, I think it will be a good tool for everybody,” Capt. Sean McCusker said.