Burlington, News

PD launches new citizens service website

City officials tout transparency, ease of access for residents

By Jason Arndt

The City of Burlington Police Department recently launched a citizen services website designed to enhance community engagement and improve transparency for residents.

Brian Zmudzinski

According to Police Chief Brian Zmudzinski, the new citizen services website is an initiative he has sought for about two years, and is a partnership with the department’s public safety software company, ProPhoenix.

“We are excited to have it available to our citizens,” he said. “It is just another tool to better service our community and provide more citizen engagement.”

The new website allows citizens to view crime map data including traffic accidents on specific dates, road closures, find accident reports, file complaints, request open records, request house checks while on vacations, update alarm systems, and submit anonymous tips to officers.

The crime map software includes a specific time frame feature, area of incidents – such as neighborhood or block, as well as the incident type ranging from offenses such as theft and traffic accidents/violations to trespassing, burglaries and more.

As of Monday, the portal has details on 27 calls for service from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18 and residents can expand the timeframe, Zmudzinski said.

Residents with information on any crime data can submit a tip to officers investigating a specific incident, Zmudzinski said, adding that they can do so anonymously.

“Some of the citizens may be nervous or have some anxiety contacting the police,” he said. “This module will allow you to essentially go online with your laptop or smartphone and report that call for service.”

The crime map does have some limitations, particularly related to certain calls for service in an effort to protect victims as well as meeting statutory requirements.

Calls for service that fall under those restrictions include sexual assaults, significant crimes against persons, and other highly sensitive matters, Zmudzinski said.

“We want to protect our community and more importantly, our victims,” he said. “We do have some restrictions on access.”

Online services
The new website allows residents to request a copy of an accident report from an incident they were involved in but carries some time limitations, according to information from the city’s quarterly newsletter.

The date of the accident must be within the past three months and the resident needs the case number, first and last name, as well as submitting their driver’s license number.

“You must be one of the individuals involved in the accident to obtain the report,” city officials wrote in the newsletter. “The report will be available for download, once the report has been completed by officer.”

Residents can also file complaints online using the module instead of contacting police by phone, according to city officials, however, they’ll need to include a location for the complaint and details of the issue, with an option to report a complaint anonymously.

For residents taking a vacation, they can request routine house checks using the online portal for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 90 days, according to city officials.

Those requests must be made 48 hours prior to the residents’ departure date, officials said.

“When completing the form, be sure to include someone officers could contact, should an issue arise while you are enjoying your time away,” they wrote.

Businesses and residents are also able to register and update their alarm systems.

“The police department and officers have that information in real time, and it’s available to officers to view while they are working,” Zmudzinski said.

The alarm system has another feature that allows homeowners and businesses to provide keyholder and/or emergency contact information, if officers need such details, it states in the city newsletter.

Other features include submitting general anonymous tips, including suspicious and criminal behavior in their neighborhoods, which will be protected by the police department.

Years in the making
The department has always had crime mapping data, according to Zmudzinski, who said his agency decided to roll out the feature after officials spent time working on technical issues.

“The service is certainly new to our community. There are other communities that are starting to onboard it within their municipalities. I think time will tell on the effectiveness and the amount of interaction for this module,” Zmudzinski said.

“This is something that I wanted to do for the last two years. We have always had a module, but like any module through the vendor, it takes time to work the bugs out,” he added.

The total cost for the rollout is minimal, with the city paying $2,400 annually, which was included in the 2024 budget and beyond.

Zmudzinski said he hopes to see increased citizen engagement through the new offering.

“We are always looking for different avenues to improve our services to the community,” Zmudzinski said. “This was a service that our public safety software allowed us to do. We wanted to add it as another tool.

“It’s to enhance our public safety and improve our quality of life here in Burlington.”

To access the module, visit burlington-wi.gov, click on “Your Government” and find the police department tab.

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